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Issue 1, 2014
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The panoscopic approach to high performance thermoelectrics

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Abstract

This review discusses recent developments and current research in high performance bulk thermoelectric materials, comprising nanostructuring, mesostructuring, band alignment, band engineering and synergistically defining key strategies for boosting the thermoelectric performance. To date, the dramatic enhancements in the figure of merit achieved in bulk thermoelectric materials have come either from the reduction in lattice thermal conductivity or improvement in power factors, or both of them. Here, we summarize these relationships between very large reduction of the lattice thermal conductivity with all-scale hierarchical architecturing, large enhanced Seebeck coefficients with intra-matrix electronic structure engineering, and control of the carrier mobility with matrix/inclusion band alignment, which enhance the power factor and reduce the lattice thermal conductivity. The new concept of hierarchical compositionally alloyed nanostructures to achieve these effects is presented. Systems based on PbTe, PbSe and PbS in which spectacular advances have been demonstrated are given particular emphasis. A discussion of future possible strategies is aimed at enhancing the thermoelectric figure of merit of these materials.

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Publication details

The article was received on 14 Sep 2013, accepted on 18 Oct 2013 and first published on 15 Nov 2013


Article type: Perspective
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43099E
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2014,7, 251-268
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    The panoscopic approach to high performance thermoelectrics

    L. Zhao, V. P. Dravid and M. G. Kanatzidis, Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, 7, 251
    DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43099E

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