APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Thermoelectric power generators
- Peltier coolers
- Thin film transistors
- Light emitting devices
- Solar cells
- Electrical, electronic, and optoelectronic devices
- Switches (electronic and thermal)
- Automobile waste heat recovery
- Power source for small electronics (Internet of Things, sensors, etc.)
- Wearables, personal thermal management
- Improves thermoelectric material performance
- Yields flexible devices for use on multiple surfaces
- Scalable fabrication process
- Reduces cost to power ratio
- Reduces environmental impact of nanofabrication
- Power generation and thermal management with no moving parts or fluids
Researchers at Berkeley Lab and their colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the California Institute of Technology have developed three technologies to optimize nanostructures, using less energy intensive approaches than current technologies, for flexible, low cost, large area thermoelectric devices and other nanodevices:
- Tunable Thermoelectric Nanomaterials, 2015-085
- Interface Engineering and Doping in Nanostructures, 2015-086
- Graded Thermoelectric Materials, 2015-091
Tunable Thermoelectric Nanomaterials, 2015-085
This technology yields nanostructured thermoelectric materials with a higher Seebeck coefficient value, electrical conductivity, and power factor than current approaches. Unlike this new technology, which improves the Seebeck coefficient and electrical conductivity of thermoelectric materials, past approaches have focused on reducing thermal conductivity, which requires energy intensive processing techniques. (Thermoelectric performance is reported as ZT = S2 σT / λ, where S is the material’s Seebeck coefficient, σ is electrical conductivity, T is temperature, and λ is thermal conductivity.)
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Processing thin films of nanocrystals resulted in high thermoelectric power.
STATUS: Published U. S. Patent Application 15/254,412 (Publication No. US2017/0069813). Available for license or collaborative research.
Interface Engineering and Doping in Nanostructures, 2015-086
Researchers drove novel macroscale transport behavior by engineering the nanoscale interface via nanowire loading. This technology yields a flexible thermoelectric generator. The technology can also be used to tune transport behavior in other thermoelectric materials. This technology avoids the material waste, mismatches of thermal expansion coefficients between components and heat sources, and limitation to use on flat, regularly shaped surfaces found with rigid thermoelectric modules based on either bulk crystals or spark-plasma-sintered nanostructures. Earlier demonstrations of nanomaterials yielded materials with poor stability and durability, and materials used for processing were toxic, volatile and chemically unstable. In contrast, materials selected for this technology are environmentally benign and inexpensive.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Researchers demonstrated the reproducible tunability of electrical transport behavior in nanowire composite.
STATUS: Issued U. S. Patent 10,249,808. Available for license or collaborative research.
Thermoelectric Materials, 2015-091
This technology yields thermoelectrics in which layers can be tuned for optimal performance. The technology benefits from non-traditional bulk thermoelectric properties found in organic and organic / inorganic nanocomposite materials.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Researchers demonstrated nanocrystal composites.
STATUS: Published U. S. Patent Application 15/254,918 (Publication No. US2017/0069815). Available for license or collaborative research.
REFERENCE NUMBERS: 2015-085, 2015-086, 2015-091