Iranian researchers from Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology, in association with their colleagues from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, have produced nanostructured materials that can turn wasted heat in various sections into electricity with high efficiency.
Thermoelectric is a solid object that converts thermal energy into electrical one. Contrary to the usual thermal machines, thermoelectric materials do not have any moving pieces and they perform soundlessly.
Thermoelectric devices have lower efficiency than the usual thermal machines, but they can be used when there is no need for high electric power.
According to the researchers, the aim of the study was to develop thermoelectric materials with low thermal conductivity but high electrical conductivity. Cage-like compounds are able to create the desired characteristic due to their unique microstructure. In addition, the characteristic can be improved by adding nanoparticles to the structures and creating nanocomposite structure.
These composite nanostructures are able to significantly reduce costs due to the waste of thermal energy. They also reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by converting thermal energy into electrical one.
In this research, cage-like structures have been synthesized through various methods by using barium atom entrapped in a cage created by silicon or germanium atoms in forms of nanocrystals, nanowires and nanocomposites containing europium titanate ceramic nanoparticles and silicon carbide.
Results of the research have been published in Physica Status Solidi.