Major Materials Breakthrough in Harvesting Waste Heat for Electricity
A solution that is as much about design as chemistry:
A good analogy is a chocolate chip cookie, says Kanatzidis, who is a professor of chemistry.
- The field “got to 1 ZT by refining the formulation of the chocolate chips. That is the atomic scale.
- More recently, we improved things by determining where on the cookie the chips should be placed. That is the nanoscale that improved the state-of-the-art to about 1.8 ZT.
- And here, now we have adjusted the size of the cookie and how it is stacked in the [mesoscale] package,” says Kanatzidis
“The brilliance of [the Northwestern team’s] study of lead telluride is that they have [shoehorned] almost every known strategy for optimizing thermoelectric materials into one system…
“The embedding of progressively smaller subunits within the material reminds me of matryoshka (Russian) dolls.”
(via Waste Heat to Electricity Breakthrough - IEEE Spectrum)