Thermo/Piezo-Electrics (T-PEGs)


The approach our group has taken to thermal energy scavenging is the use of organic matrix nanocomposite materials. Based on the heterogeneous model, it was originally conceded that  this approach was bound to be less efficient than say BiTe in thermoelectrics.  But, it has the cost advantage of manufacturability in large sheets, and simple direct applique form factors.

As research has progressed from the original development of PowerFelt (TM), we have found that while our original models were correct in many of their details, they were wrong in their broad assumptions.  We have now found several ways in which heterogeneous systems can approach the performance of BiTe. 

Our focus on these avenues includes:

  1. 1)Inorganic-organic hybrid nanocomposites with tailored doping and interconnection among the nanophase elements.  We have recently released our findings on such a system of ternary chalcoganide nanowires with flexibility and space filling of less than 50% and a ZT ~0.75!  We re confident this is only the beginning as we begin to explore 1D and 2D materials with exotic new topological states.

  2. 2)Synergistic effects brought about by the integration of internal fields based on piezotronics, pyroelectrics, and other thermodynamic effects associated with noncentrosymmetric crystal structures.  In this work organic (or hybrid) metastructures are synthesized at the nano and submicron scales, that allows for the combination of orthogonal materials functionalities. In doing this, local alignment of electronic features associated with the dimensionality of the nanophase used to make the structure, can be achieved.  This so called TPEG effect has been shown to increase thermoelectric power output by several hundred percent.  

Our group has a wide range of Thermoelectric, Pyroelectric, and Piezoelectric measurement capabilities.  However, unique to our group is the ability to measure many of these materials phenomena simultaneously.

CarrollResearch © 2016

courtesy NYTimes:Ken Bennett Photographer

The focus of our power “scavenging” development is a meta-material platform with the form factor of a fabric and the ability to convert both kinetic and thermal energy into electricity.  Moreover the intrinsic coupling of the kinetic energy scavenging with the thermal energy scavenging yields a synergistic effect which we have termed T-PEG (Thermo - Piezo electric power generation).

These sponsors have supported the development of TPEGs