Nanostructured Thermoelectric Composites

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Army
Contract: W911NF-05-C-0116
Agency Tracking Number: A045-007-0208
Amount: $749,963.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2005
Solicitation Year: 2004
Solicitation Topic Code: A04-T007
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
55 Chapel St, Newton, MA, 02458
DUNS: 153008631
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 David Carnahan
 (617) 581-6747
Business Contact
 David Carnahan
Title: President
Phone: (617) 581-6747
Research Institution
 Gang Chen
 Mass Ave
Cambridge, MA, 02139
 (617) 253-2423
 Nonprofit college or university
NanoLab, Boston College and MIT conducted a Phase I development effort in nanoscale thermoelectric composites. Our goal was to show that the high ZT obtained for quantum dot structures can also be obtained using scalable nanoparticle processes. The research focused on the synthesis of nanoscale lead selenide (PbSe) and lead telluride (PbTe). Next, densification procedures were developed with micron scale powders, then with nanopowders. We achieved near theoretical densities, but saw grain growth. MIT first tested parts made from micron scale powders, which showed expected values for thermal & electrical conductivity. Next, MIT tested parts made from nanoscale powders. For nanoscale PbSe, the electrical conductivity increased to 72,690 S/m. However, the thermal conductivity also increased to 2.12 W/mK, so ZT was ~0.32. We attribute the high thermal conductivity to sub-optimal thermal processing conditions. Similar work was conducted for PbTe, but the nanoscale PbTe had a lower electrical conductivity (15,469 S/m) than its micron scale counterpart (25,614 S/m). We achieved lower thermal conductivity (1.66 vs. 1.8 W/mK), but overall, the ZT stayed near ~0.2. Like PbSe, thermal processing optimization can improve performance. In Phase II, we plan to optimize the densification, then mass produce high ZT nanostructured thermoelectric materials.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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