SBIR Phase I: Nanostructured Materials with Improved Thermoelectric Properties
Small Business Information
12725 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton, OR, 97005
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop high thermoelectric figure-of-merit (ZT) nanocrystal quantum dot (NQD) thermoelectric (TE) materials that have thermal efficiency properties far better than traditional bulk thermoelectric materials. In the proposed work, TE devices will be fabricated from solidified quantum dot films that are formed from colloidally synthesized NQDs using thermal consolidation. The capability for designing and constructing materials and structures with dimensions on the nanometer scale produces quantum confinement effects that permit optical and electronic properties to be tunable based on the size, shape, and composition of the nanostructures. These effects represent additional degrees of freedom in the development of thermoelectric materials, and therefore permit significant advances in both fundamental understanding, and device performance. Consequently, the potential for bypassing the upper limit of bulk material ZT has been recognized, there has been a surge of interest and research in the application of nanotechnology for TE development. To realize the opportunity presented by nanotechnology, delicate compromises must be achieved to obtain the high values of ZT found in some materials. Thus, careful optimization is needed to obtain good materials for application in TE devices. ZT is related to electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity by the Seebeck coefficient. The essential idea is to find materials in which the heat-carrying phonons are strongly scattered (glass-like, low conductivity), while the charge carriers are not (crystal-like, high conductivity). Commercially, the overall goal of the program is to develop an advanced thermoelectric nanostructured material that will offer significant cost, flexibility, and performance benefits for advanced technology applications particularly in the microelectronics industry. The proposed TE materials improve performance by increasing electrical conductivity while reducing thermal conductivity.
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