Novel thermoelectric materials development, existing and potential applications, and commercialization routes
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering.
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Thermoelectrics (TE) are devices which can convert heat in the form of a temperature gradient into electricity, or alternatively generate and absorb heat when an electrical current is run through them. It was established in the 1950's that the effectiveness of a thermoelectric could approximately be described in terms of a dimensionless figure of merit ... being respectively the Seebeck coefficient, the electrical resistivity and the thermal conductivity of the material. Until recently, ZT1 was the best performance these materials could achieve. However, the field of thermoelectrics advanced rapidly in the five last years, leading to the first significant breakthroughs in this area in the past fifty years, with materials with ZT up to 3 being reported. It is therefore interesting to wonder what new applications and markets these improvements at the material level could lead to. The first section of this thesis is a review of the principles of TE technology, the current materials and their level of performance. The recent materials developments are also described.(cont.) The commercialization of TE is then discussed, along with the requirements in terms of performance and costs which would have to be achieved to make TE a further commercial success. Eventually, a business model for one of the applications is developed. A special focus on the PbTe/PbTeSe quantum dot superlattice structure developed by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory is adopted in this paper.
Thesis (M. Eng.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, 2006.Includes bibliographical references (leaf 82).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Materials Science and Engineering.