Complex thermoelectric materials

Nat Mater. 2008 Feb;7(2):105-14. doi: 10.1038/nmat2090.


Thermoelectric materials, which can generate electricity from waste heat or be used as solid-state Peltier coolers, could play an important role in a global sustainable energy solution. Such a development is contingent on identifying materials with higher thermoelectric efficiency than available at present, which is a challenge owing to the conflicting combination of material traits that are required. Nevertheless, because of modern synthesis and characterization techniques, particularly for nanoscale materials, a new era of complex thermoelectric materials is approaching. We review recent advances in the field, highlighting the strategies used to improve the thermopower and reduce the thermal conductivity.