Metal-Semiconductor Nanocomposites for High Efficiency Thermoelectric Power Generation
Thermoelectric power generation is an increasingly important technology for the conversion of thermal to electrical energy and can be used for waste heat recovery. Improving the efficiency of thermoelectric devices is necessary to compete with alternative technologies. By using a unique nanocomposite consisting of metallic nanoparticles epitaxially embedded within a semiconductor matrix, it is possible to tailor the properties of thermoelectric materials and improve the efficiency of power generators. Improved efficiency thermoelectric power generators are an important piece of the clean-energy puzzle. For example, waste heat recovery by thermoelectric power generators could improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines significantly. At the same time, there are numerous challenges along the way, as the materials properties required for efficient thermoelectric power generation cannot generally be modified independently. In this program, new materials (many produced by the Zide group at UD) and devices are being developed by an interdisciplinary team of electrical engineers, materials scientists, mechanical engineers, chemists, and manufacturing industry partners.