Thermoelectic materials convert heat to electricity.
Getting a thermoelectric figure of merit over 3.0 is a technological holy grail like a room temperature superconductor.
Nature Scientific Reports -A bottom-up route to enhance thermoelectric figures of merit in graphene nanoribbons
Currently the best materials (Tin Selenide) in the lab have a ZT of 2.6.
In summary, the combination of geometrical structuring and isotope engineering at the precursor level makes it possible to optimize both electronic and phononic transport properties of the considered carbon nanomaterials which have already been realized with existing fabrication technology. Noting that ZT over 3 is the goal for efficient thermoelectrics isotopically engineered c-GNRs are good candidates for technological applications, especially at elevated temperatures. The proposed hybrid nanostructuring scheme is promising for efficient TE energy conversion and thermal management of nano-devices. This scheme is not limited to carbon based systems but it is applicable to low-dimensional structures in general.
Thermoelectrics at ZT 3 or higher could replace current methods of refrigeration and automotive engines and turbines at power plants.
The actual range of replacement depends upon the price and volume of thermoelectric material that can be produced and the operating temperatures.
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