Ca3AlSb3: an inexpensive, non-toxic thermoelectric material for waste heat recovery
Thermoelectric materials directly convert thermal energy into electrical energy, offering a promising solid-state solution for waste heat recovery. For thermoelectric devices to make a significant impact on energy and the environment the major impediments are the efficiency, availability and toxicity of current thermoelectric materials. Typically, efficient thermoelectric materials contain heavy elements such as lead and tellurium that are toxic and not earth abundant. Many materials with unusual structures containing abundant and benign elements are known, but remain unexplored for thermoelectric applications. In this paper we demonstrate, with the discovery of high thermoelectric efficiency in Ca3AlSb3, the use of elementary solid-state chemistry and physics to guide the search and optimization of such materials.