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Issue 12, 2011
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Enhancement of the thermoelectric properties in nanoscale and nanostructured materials

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Abstract

Thermoelectric materials can be used for solid state power generation and heating/cooling applications. The figure of merit of thermoelectric materials, ZT, which determines their efficiency in a thermoelectric device, remains low for most conventional bulk materials. Nanoscale and nanostructured thermoelectric materials are promising for increasing ZT relative to the bulk. This review introduces the theory behind thermoelectric materials and details the predicted and demonstrated enhancements of ZT in nanoscale and nanostructured thermoelectric materials. We discuss thin films and superlattices, nanowires and nanotubes, and nanocomposites, providing a ZT comparison among various families of nanocomposite materials. We provide some perspectives regarding the origin of enhanced ZT in nanoscale and nanostructured materials and suggest some promising and fruitful research directions for achieving high ZT materials for practical applications.

Graphical abstract: Enhancement of the thermoelectric properties in nanoscale and nanostructured materials

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Publication details

The article was received on 20 Aug 2010, accepted on 10 Nov 2010 and first published on 02 Dec 2010


Article type: Feature Article
DOI: 10.1039/C0JM02755C
Citation: J. Mater. Chem., 2011,21, 4037-4055
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    Enhancement of the thermoelectric properties in nanoscale and nanostructured materials

    J. R. Szczech, J. M. Higgins and S. Jin, J. Mater. Chem., 2011, 21, 4037
    DOI: 10.1039/C0JM02755C

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