3D Nanostructured Thermoelectric Materials
This research project is in competition for funding with one or more projects available across the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Usually the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding. Find out more information about the DTP and how to apply.
This project seeks to develop a new breed of 3D thermoelectric metamaterials that have controlled nanostructured features upon the 100 nm scale, allowing unprecedented control over electronic and phononic properties and offering a highly controlled pathway for understanding the effect of nanoscale topology.
The world’s energy consumption is reaching 16 terawatts and is predicted to triple by 2050. Meeting this huge demand along with great concerns over climate change has now led to an urgency for the development of cleaner and renewable energy sources.
Thermoelectric (TE) materials are systems that can directly convert thermal waste heat into electrical energy. It has potential to make significant contribution to the development of low carbon power generation highlighted in the Clean Growth Strategy of the UK Government.
In order to achieve this goal, a key challenge is to improve the efficiency of TE materials and reduce manufacture cost. The success in this endeavour will lead to wide scale applications in power generation and efficient cooling of thermoelectric technology beyond the current niche markets (example: spacepower generation and cooling laser diodes or infrared detectors).
Project aims and methods
The project involves the manufacture of novel 3D nanostructured thermoelectric materials using two-photon lithography. The fabricated samples will be subject to standard physical characterisation such as scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy.
Furthermore, the electronic and thermal properties of 3D TE samples will be measured using both nanoscale scanning probe measurements and bulk transport measurements. The student will also benefit from interactions with theorists at Exeter University. Ultimately, the project will develop a new breed of TE devices with a step change in performance.
This project can be successfully completed in 3.5 years as detailed by the following plan:
Month 0 - 6
Literature review, training upon two-photon lithography (TPL) , upon pulsed laser deposition and characterisation tools.
Month 7 - 12
First fabrication of 3D thermoelectric materials using TPL and PLD. Initial physical characterisation.
Month 13 - 24
Further fabrication and investigation of contact procedures for heat conductivity measurements.
Month 25 - 30
Detailed investigation of heat conductivity as function of lattice parameters.
Month 31 - 36
Detailed investigation of electrical transport as function of lattice parameters.