A Novel Material for Thermoelectric Technology | AIChE

A Novel Material for Thermoelectric Technology


In late July 2020, a rover named Perseverance launched from Earth to explore the crater Jezero on Mars. It contained a unique piece of technology called a thermoelectric device, which converts heat to electricity. For Perseverance, the heat it collects from Mars and converts to energy is sufficient to power its operations, but for most applications on Earth, thermoelectric devices are not efficient enough to power most applications.

At Northwestern Univ. and Seoul National Univ. in Korea, researchers have developed a thermoelectric material that converts heat to electricity with unusually high efficiency. The material, purified tin selenide in polycrystalline form, is the most thermoelectric material on record.

Thermoelectric materials convert heat to energy using the Seebeck effect, which creates voltage when a temperature gradient is applied to a thermoelectric material.

For example, heating the novel tin selenide material on one end while keeping the other side of the material relatively cooler causes electrons on the hot end to move toward the cold...

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