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Beam Processing for Enhanced Thermoelectric Performance

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a technology for enhanced thermoelectric performance by tailoring key properties of semiconductor materials with high-energy ion irradiation.

Description

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a technology for enhanced thermoelectric performance by tailoring key properties of semiconductor materials with high-energy ion irradiation. In the past, improvements in electrical conductivity, thermopower, and thermal resistivity could not be achieved simultaneously. In fact, improvements to two out of the three parameters came at the cost of diminishing the third. The Berkeley Lab technology, however, yields a simultaneous increase in electrical conductivity (up to 200%) and thermopower (up to 70%) to reach a thermoelectric figure of merit (ZT) of approximately 1.4 at room temperature.

 

The ion beam processing is performed post-growth and is controlled by alpha particle irradiation. The technology generates native defects (NDs), such as vacancies and interstitial defects, in the thermoelectric material, which break the usual antagonistic coupling among electrical conductivity, thermopower, and thermal resistivity. NDs serve as electron donors, energy-dependent scattering centers, and phonon blockers, and optimization of NDs leads to an enhanced ZT without further complex and costly processing.

Benefits
  • Simultaneous improvement in
  • o   Electrical conductivity (up to 200%)
  • o   Thermopower (up to 70%)
  • Enhanced ZT (approximately 1.4) at room temperature
  • No need for further complicated, expensive material processing
Applications and Industries

Thermoelectric materials for

  • Waste heat recovery from power plants, automobiles, and other heat sources
  • Solid state cooling
  • Interfacial thermal management
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
2013-185ProposedAvailable02/04/201702/06/2017

Contact LBL About This Technology

To: Suzanne Storar<ipo@lbl.gov>