Designing Transparent Oxide Thermoelectrics

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Chemistry


As the global demand for energy grows, renewable energy production is becoming increasingly important. Thermoelectrics (TEs) allow us to generate electrical power from a temperature gradient using a phenomenon called the Seebeck Effect. It is envisaged that this 'heat to electricity' conversion will play an important role in future energy generation and efficiency, allowing waste heat from many processes to be utilised. Most established TE materials are small band gap, and contain heavy, rare or toxic elements, e.g. PbTe and Bi2Te3. Transparent TEs have just been realised this year. The discovery of a high performance transparent oxide TE would open up new fields of research in a range of novel applications such as smart windows (or screens) with energy harvesting, cooling and thermal sensing functionalities. Replacing the currently used telluride TEs with high performance oxides would also significantly reduce the price of current TE modules. In this project we will synthesise and test new candidate transparent oxide TEs; our selection of synthetic targets will be informed both by state of the art computational materials design and experimental characterisation, including using the department's new XPS facilities. We will screen oxides with low lattice thermal conductivity and high electrical conductivity for transparent TE capabilities.
The global market for thermal energy generators has been forecast to grow to $829.5 million by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 9.5% (Thermoelectric Modules Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2015-2023). Positioning the UK at the forefront of the TE field is dependent on the identification of high performance earth abundant oxide TEs. Transparent TEs represent an as yet untapped market with a similar potential for growth. A number of UK industries can benefit from this work, including the automotive industry (Johnson Matthey, JM), refrigeration companies (e.g. cTech, ThermoElectricDevices), and thermal management companies (e.g. European Thermodynamics Ltd.). Academic impact in this area is will stem from the innovative and close interplay of theoretical prediction and experimental realisation.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509577/1 01/10/2016 24/03/2022
2088548 Studentship EP/N509577/1 24/09/2018 21/04/2023 Maham Karim