Researchers at Northwestern University have placed nanocrystals of rock salt into lead telluride, creating a material that can harness electricity from heat-generating items such as vehicle exhaust systems, industrial processes and equipment and sun light more efficiently than scientists have seen in the past.
The material exhibits a high thermoelectric figure of merit that is expected to enable 14 percent of heat waste to electricity, a scientific first. Chemists, physicists and material scientists at Northwestern collaborated to develop the material. The results of the study are published by the journal Nature Chemistry.
"It has been known for 100 years that semiconductors have this property that can harness electricity," said Mercouri Kanatzidis, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "To make this an efficient process, all you need is the right material, and we have found a recipe or system to make this material."
Kanatzidis, co-author of the study, and his team dispersed nanocrystals of rock salt (SrTe) into the material lead telluride (PbTe). Past attempts at this kind of nanoscale inclusion in bulk material have improved the energy conversion efficiency of lead telluride, but the nano inclusions also increased the scattering of electrons, which reduced overall conductivity. In this study, the Northwestern team offers the first example of using nanostructures in lead telluride to reduce electron scattering and increase the energy conversion efficiency of the material.
"We can put this material inside of an inexpensive device with a few electrical wires and attach it to something like a light bulb," said Vinayak Dravid, professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and co-author of the paper. "The device can make the light bulb more efficient by taking the heat it generates and converting part of the heat, 10 to 15 percent, into a more useful energy like electricity."
The automotive, chemical, brick, glass and any industry that uses heat to make products could make their system more efficient with the use of this scientific breakthrough, said Kanatzidis, who also has a joint appointment at the Argonne National Laboratory.
"The energy crisis and the environment are two major reasons to be excited about this discovery, but this could just be the beginning," Dravid said. "These types of structures may have other implications in the scientific community that we haven't thought of yet, in areas such as mechanical behavior and improving strength or toughness. Hopefully others will pick up this system and use it."
Erin White | EurekAlert!
Mat4Rail: EU Research Project on the Railway of the Future
23.02.2018 | Universität Bremen
Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected
21.02.2018 | North Carolina State University
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy