A group of researchers has achieved a remarkable improvement in the up-gradation of thermoelectric materials. The newly upgraded version of thermoelectric materials can convert electricity into heat and vice versa. In addition to that, it carries immense potential for numerous applications, including compact, zero-carbon power generation, as well as low-maintenance, solid-state refrigeration. Heat ‘harvesting’ is benefitted by the plentiful, free heat sources offered by automobiles, industrial processes, body heat, and everyday living.
A group of scientists hailing from Wollongong University came out with a study that overcomes a huge challenge faced by the thermoelectric materials. This technique helped to improve the conversion efficiency by almost 60%, thereby enhancing the growth of the Global Personal Mobility Devices Market. The decoupling of phonon-based (thermal) and electron-based (electronic) transport can prove to be a game-changer in the personal mobility devices industry.
Bismuth telluride-based materials are known to be the most popular commercially-available thermostatic materials. Its current applications fall into two main categories – converting heat into electricity and vice versa. Without the need for a power supply or batteries, thermoelectric materials carry the ability to power intelligent sensors in inaccessible, remote locations.
The proper balance of thermal and electrical properties has always remained one of the biggest challenges of thermoelectric materials. In most cases, enhancement in the electrical properties worsens the thermal properties and vice versa. The research team added a bit of amorphous nano-boron particles to the already existing bismuth telluride-based thermoelectric materials with the help of structural design and nano-defect engineering. The SPS or the spark plasma sintering method was used to introduce the amorphous nano boron particles. As a result of this, the thermal conductivity of the material was reduced, and electron transmission was increased. The secret behind the engineering of thermoelectric materials lies in the manipulation of the electron and phonon transport. Material engineering based on the transport of electrons is prone to the perennial trade-off between electrical and thermal properties as electrons conduct electricity as well as carry heat.
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