TitleNovel nanocomposite synthesis for high-performance thermoelectrics
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsEilertsen, JS
UniversityOregon State University
CityCorvallis, Or.
Thesis TypeMasters Thesis

Thermoelectric materials are playing a larger role in the global effort to develop diverse, efficient, and sustainable energy technologies: primarily through power-generating thermoelectric modules. The principal components of thermoelectric modules are solid-state thermoelectric materials - typically heavily doped semiconductors - that convert heat directly into electricity. However, this conversion efficiency is too low to supplant traditional energy technologies - severely limiting the distribution of clean and sustainable thermoelectric energy technologies. Efforts to enhance thermoelectric efficiency, which have been underway for decades, have been slow to realize appreciable gains in thermoelectric efficiency. However, a key advance in improving efficiency - the New Paradigm in thermoelectric material research - has been the development of thermoelectric nanocomposites. Thermoelectric nanocomposites show improved efficiency; however, they are often synthesized from highly toxic elements via energetically intense and costly synthesis procedures. Therefore, this research focuses on the discovery and development of a novel procedure for synthesizing thermoelectric nanocomposites - attrition enhanced nanocomposite synthesis - from open cage-like skutterudite-based materials. With further optimization, high-performance power-generating thermoelectric materials can be produced via this technique. Therefore, attrition-enhanced nanocomposite synthesis may play a small, though instrumental, role in achieving sustainable electrical power.