Progress has been made in the research of high-order self-supporting flexible thermoelectric materials and devices

Thermoelectric devices are attracting attention because they can convert “heat” and “electricity” in both directions based on the thermoelectric effect, thereby realizing simple and fast heat recovery and active thermal management. For portable electronic devices (mobile phones, tablets, etc.) with rapidly expanding functions and increasing power, it is urgent to use flexible miniature thermoelectric devices to effectively recover and control the heat energy generated. However, due to the performance disadvantages of flexible thermoelectric materials compared with bulk materials and the technical difficulty of high-precision miniature device integration, the development of flexible microthermoelectric devices is an important challenge in this field. 

Recently, Kaiping Tai, a researcher at the Shenyang National Research Center for Materials Science, Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his collaborators proposed a universal one-dimensional van der Waals coupling-induced epitaxial growth strategy, which broke through the limitations of traditional heteroepitaxial growth process substrates and developed a variety of ordered nanocrystalline structures. Based on this preparation technology, researchers deposited nanocrystals with highly ordered structures on the surface of single-walled carbon nanotube films to obtain self-supporting flexible composite thermoelectric materials, and elucidated the microscopic mechanism of highly ordered growth of nanocrystals through theoretical calculations. The results show that the average thermoelectric merit (ZT) of the prepared P-type and N-type SWCNT-(Bi,Sb)2Te3 composite thermoelectric films is higher than 0.8 in the temperature range of 300~370 K. Furthermore, using the prepared P-type and N-type composite thermoelectric materials, micron-scale self-supporting flexible thermoelectric power generation and temperature control devices were developed. The power density of this device reaches ~0.36 Wcm-2 at ~30 K temperature difference and ~92.5 Wcm-2 at ~400 K, which is the world’s leading performance. This research lays a foundation for the application and development of flexible miniature thermoelectric devices in the field of portable electronic devices. 

On October 16, the related research results were published in Advanced Materials under the title of Flexible Carbon Nanotube-Epitaxially Grown Nanocrystals for Micro-Thermoelectric Modules. The research work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the National Research Center for Materials Science in Liaoning Province and Shenyang. (Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Related Paper Information:

Single-walled carbon nanotubes induce the growth of high-order nanocrystalline materials and its mechanism

Micron-scale thermoelectric devices prepared by femtosecond laser and their properties

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