Thermoelectrics, which transports heat for refrigeration or converts heat into electricity directly, is a key technology for renewable energy harvesting and solid-state refrigeration. Despite its importance, the widespread use of thermoelectric devices is constrained because of the low efficiency of thermoelectric bulk alloys. However, boundary engineering has been demonstrated as one of the most effective ways to enhance the thermoelectric performance of conventional thermoelectric materials such as Bi2Te3, PbTe, and SiGe alloys because their thermal and electronic transport properties can be manipulated separately by this approach. We review our recent progress on the enhancement of the thermoelectric figure of merit through boundary engineering together with the processing technologies for boundary engineering developed most recently using Bi2Te3-based bulk alloys. A brief discussion of the principles and current status of boundary-engineered bulk alloys for the enhancement of the thermoelectric figure of merit is presented. We focus mainly on (1) the reduction of the thermal conductivity by grain boundary engineering and (2) the reduction of thermal conductivity without deterioration of the electrical conductivity by phase boundary engineering. We also discuss the next potential approach using two boundary engineering strategies for a breakthrough in the area of bulk thermoelectric alloys.
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© 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Materials Science(all)