Thermoelectrics and Thermal Management Team
We develop thermoelectric materials and thermoelectric energy conversion technologies that convert waste heat directly into useful electricity/accurately control temperature using electric current, thereby promoting efficient energy use.
- Achieving high performance in thermoelectric materials and modules, and developing these with earth-abundant and low-toxicity elements
- Improving the durability of thermoelectric modules, and developing high-accuracy evaluation methods
- Realizing smart thermal management using thermoelectric conversion technologies (thermoelectric power generation and Peltier cooling)
Research Team Leader / Greetings
Technologies for optimal heat control still have a way to go compared to electricity. This area is promising from both academic and engineering perspectives. Thermal energy often goes to waste and is released to the environment unused. We are one of the few research teams in the world conducting a wide range of research on thermoelectric energy conversion technologies to produce electricity from this “Mottainai” unused heat. By fully utilizing heat, we will help promote the efficient use of energy.
Contributing to energy conservation and low carbon emissions through the effective heat use
60% of the primary energy supply is disposed without effective utilization in the form of heat (waste heat). Furthermore, improving the efficiency of thermal management is necessary to achieve energy conservation in various devices and processes. Solid-state semiconductor-based thermoelectric modules allow to directly convert waste heat into valuable electricity (thermoelectric power generation) or can be used for highly accurate temperature control using electric current (Peltier cooling). Our team focuses on all aspects of thermoelectric conversion technologies, from cutting-edge materials, modules, power generation demonstrations, and evaluations, in order to promote their widespread use. Advanced manufacturing, analysis, and evaluation facilities are available in our laboratory to promote research and development of thermoelectric technologies.
Focusing on all aspects of thermoelectrics, from materials, modules, and evaluations
①Improvement in figure of merit of materials using state-of-the-art materials science
Our team focuses on achieving high efficiency in thermoelectric materials through the advanced control of heat and electrical transport and developing new thermoelectric materials made from low resources elements (sulfur, magnesium, etc.) and organic materials.
②Development of module and power generation demonstration
Our team are developing electrode fabrication technology for improving the thermal and electrical contacts between interfaces and investigating the degradation behavior of thermoelectric modules to highly reliable power generation. We are interested in developing thermoelectric systems by integrating related heat technologies (heat transfer, heat radiation, etc.).
③Advanced evaluation methods
One important challenge is the development of advanced evaluation technology to support fair thermoelectric market growth. We developed reference module are conducting interlaboratory testing of thermoelectric conversion in international framework.
④Bridging the technological valley of death for social implementation
We aim to commercialize thermoelectric technologies through a wide range of collaborative efforts with companies in Japan. For example, we have supported the establishment of Mottainai Energy Co., Ltd. (AIST startup company).
Sauerschnig, P.; Jood, P.; Ohta, M., Challenges and progress in contact development for PbTe-based thermoelectrics, ChemNanoMat 2023, 9, e202200560:1-12, 10.1002/cnma.202200560
Sauerschnig, P.; Jood, P.; Ohta, M., Improved high‐temperature material stability and mechanical properties while maintaining a high figure of merit in nanostructured p‐type PbTe‐based thermoelectric elements, Adv. Mater. Technol. 2023, 8, 2201295, 10.1002/admt.202201295
Sepehri-Amin, H.; Imasato, K.; Wood, M.; Kuo, J. J.; Snyder, G. J. , Evolution of Nanometer-Scale Microstructure within Grains and in the Intergranular Region in Thermoelectric Mg3(Sb, Bi)2Alloys, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2022, 14, 37958, 10.1021/acsami.2c09905
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