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January 25, 2011

Thermoelectric figure of merit increased to 0.8 at 700 oC for mass producable bulk material

Researchers from Boston College, MIT, Clemson University and the University of Virginia have used nanotechnology to achieve a 60-90 percent increase in the thermoelectric figure of merit of p-type half-Heusler, a common bulk semiconductor compound

the application of half-Heusler has been limited because of its poor thermoelectric performance: it previously registered a peak figure of merit of approximately 0.5 at 700 oC for bulk ingots.

Xiao, working with BC Professor of Physics Zhifeng Ren and MIT’s Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering Gang Chen, have increased the figure of merit value of p-type half-Heusler to 0.8 at 700 oC. Moreover, the groups’ material preparation methods proved to save time and expense compared with conventional methods.



“This method is low cost and can be scaled for mass production,” Ren said. “This represents an exciting opportunity to improve the performance of thermoelectric materials in a cost-effective manner.”

Other thermoelectrics perform far better but this could be interesting for potential cheaper and more widespread mass production applications

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