Maria Ibáñez (Institute of Science and Technology of Austria (ISTA), Klosterneuburg): Solution-processed thermoelectric materials: engineering performance through surface chemistry

24.01.2023 17:30

Conforming thermal energy to electricity and vice versa through solid-state thermoelectric devices is appealing for many applications ...

Conforming thermal energy to electricity and vice versa through solid-state thermoelectric devices
is appealing for many applications. Not only because thermal waste energy is generated
in many of our most common industrial and domestic processes but also because thermoelectric
devices can be used for temperature sensing, refrigeration, etc. However, their
extended use has been seriously hampered by the relatively high production cost and low efficiency
of thermoelectric materials. The problem is that thermoelectric materials require high
electrical conductivity, high Seebeck coefficient (S), and low thermal conductivity,
three strongly interrelated properties
Thermoelectric materials are often dense, polycrystalline inorganic semiconductors. Usually,
the processing of such materials has two steps: preparing the semiconductor in powder form
and consolidating the powder into a dense sample. The most common route to prepare powders
among the thermoelectric community is through high-temperature reactions and ball
milling. Alternatively, solution methods to produce powders with much less demanding conditions
(e.g. lower reagent purity, lower temperatures, shorter reaction times) have been explored
to reduce the production costs. These methods also provide opportunities to produce
particles with better-controlled features, such as crystallite size, shape, composition, and
crystal phase, which allow modifying the properties of the consolidated material. However,
when dealing with powders produced in solution, one should pay special attention to potential
undesired elements coming from the reactants. Those elements may not affect the crystal
structure and bulk composition of the powder but can be present as surface adsorbates. The
composition, chemical stability, and bonding nature of surface species can influence the sintering
process, and reaction byproducts can determine the final properties of the consolidated
Herein, we will demonstrate the importance of surface species in the use of solution-processed
particles as precursors for bulk thermoelectric materials. In particular, we will provide
examples in which surface species are used to deliberate control of the type and density of
major carriers, engineer the electronic band structure, define composite microstructure, and
hence charge carrier mobility and phonon transport.

Einladung, Details und Abstract

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