Thermoelectric elements may be used for heat sensors, heat pumps, and thermoelectric generators. A quantum-dot or nano-scale grain size polycrystalline material the effects of size-quantization are present inside the nanocrystals. A thermoelectric element composed of densified Groups IV-VI material, such as calcogenide-based materials are doped with metal or chalcogenide to form interference barriers form along grains. The dopant used is either silver or sodium. These chalcogenide materials form nanoparticles of highly crystal grains, and may specifically be between 1- and 100 nm. The compound is densified by spark plasma sintering.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
This invention was made with Government support under Grant No. DE-PS26-04NT42113 awarded by the Department of Energy and Grant No. W81XWH-07-1-0708 awarded by the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. The Government has rights in the invention.