Thermoelectrics (Fig. 1) provide a pathway for converting heat directly into electricity or vice versa without moving parts. Traditional thermoelectric materials are expensive and rigid inorganic materials usually made of rare-earth elements. In sharp contrast, organic materials are cheap, carbon-based and solution-processable.
Most interestingly the flexibility of organic materials makes wearable thermoelectric devices for body heat recovery possible (Fig. 2), an emerging application of thermoelectrics. Compared to inorganic materials, the research on organic thermoelectric materials is still at a young stage. Our group aims at addressing the following fundamental challenges in this area:
- Study the transport processes through organic-inorganic materials. We have discovered that thermoelectric performance is enhanced with hybrid organic-inorganic materials (Fig. 3).
- Understand how the anisotropic nano- and micro-structures of organic materials influence the electronic structure and phonon transport in different directions.
Click here to access a list of our publications related to thermoelectrics.