Chemical Nature of Thermoelectricity
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Thermoelectricity is a two-way process. It can refer either to the way a temperature difference between one side of a material and the other can produce electricity, or to the reverse: the way applying an electric current through a material can create a temperature difference between its two sides, which can be used to heat or cool things without combustion or moving parts.
Thermoelectric materials, i.e. materials capable to create electricity from waste heat sources, are an ideal solution to the search for sustainable energy.
The current challenge in this field of research is finding materials with a higher efficiency. One of the recent strategies of quest for more effective thermoelectric materials rely on minimizing lattice thermal conductivity without greatly impacting of the electrical conductivity. New materials with more complex structures enabling more independent influencing of the electrical and thermal transport are studied. The skutterudites (derived from CoAs3) proved to be a very promising class of such complex materials thanks to an existence of large voids inside of their structure, which can be “filled” with heavy atoms. Placing of such atoms in the interstitial voids of this crystal system would substantially reduce¸ by introducing phonon-scattering center, the lattice thermal conductivity without considerable influencing of electron transport (electrical conductivity).
Using high-temperature solid state reaction we have prepared some ternary skutterudites like CoSn1.5Se1.5 and Fe2Pd2Sb12, we determined their structure and transport properties.
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Journal of Organic & Inorganic Chemistry