Thermoelectric devices possess enormous potential to reshape the global energy landscape by converting waste heat into electricity, yet their commercial implementation has been limited by their high cost to output power ratio. No single “champion” thermoelectric material exists due to a broad range of material-dependent thermal and electrical property optimization challenges. While the advent of nanostructuring provided a general design paradigm for reducing material thermal conductivities, there exists no analogous strategy for homogeneous, precise doping of materials. Here, we demonstrate a nanoscale interface-engineering approach that harnesses the large chemically accessible surface areas of nanomaterials to yield massive, finely-controlled, and stable changes in the Seebeck coefficient, switching a poor nonconventional p-type thermoelectric material, tellurium, into a robust n-type material exhibiting stable properties over months of testing. These remodeled, n-type nanowires display extremely high power factors (~500 µW m−1K−2) that are orders of magnitude higher than their bulk p-type counterparts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)