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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J000884/1
Title: Ultra-high temperature synthesis of high-performance Zintl thermoelectrics
Principal Investigator: Bos, Dr J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science
Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 13 September 2011 Ends: 12 September 2013 Value (£): 79,630
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 May 2011 EPSRC Physical Sciences Materials - May Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Technologies that enable the efficient use of energy could have an enormous impact on the most pressing issues of today: global warming and the reliance on ever-dwindling supplies of fossil fuels.

The proposed research addresses this topical challenge through the investigation of the next generation of thermoelectric materials that harvest waste heat and transform it into useful electricity. In particular, the research is focused on thermoelectric materials that can operate at high temperatures, which is essential as the Carnot efficiency (the thermodynamic maximum) increases with temperature difference.

The scientific challenge is to optimise three competing material parameters; the Seebeck voltage; the electrical and thermal conductivity, and to do this in a material with good temperature stability.

The novelty of the proposed research derives from the use of ultra-high temperature synthesis to achieve temperature stability, and the synergistic exploitation of Zintl chemistry and interfaces in nanocomposites to obtain large thermoelectric figures of merit.

Zintl phases are key high-performance thermoelectric materials because the simultaneous presence of ionic and covalent regions enables a more independent optimisation of the thermoelectric parameters compared to electronically homogeneous materials. Two classes of promising Zintl-type phases have been identified, and the performance of outstanding bulk materials will be further enhanced through the use of interfaces in nanocomposites.

This ambitious and transformative research programme will contribute towards the development of high-performance thermoelectric materials operating at temperatures most suitable to power generation, enabling 20-30% energy conversion efficiencies. The research will also lead to an increased understanding of the relation between composition, structure and thermoelectric properties.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk