consolider nanoTHERM. Tailoring electronic and phononic properties of nanomaterials: Towards ideal Thermoelectricity


Status: ongoing project
Contract Number:
Grant No. CSD2010-00044

CONSOLIDER-Ingenio 2010. Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion

The aim of this Consolider is to build a consortium with the necessary critical mass, skills, know-how and expertise to produce a significant advance in our understanding of the fundamental physics underlying thermoelectricity to produce next-generation thermoelectric materials and devices. Thermoelectricity is a physical phenomenon by which either an electrical current is generated by a thermal gradient between two points of a material (power generation by the Seebeck effect) or a temperature difference is achieved by passing a current through the sample between two contacts (cooling/heating by Peltier effect). Hence, thermoelectricity is addressing one of the major global challenges in view of nowadays worldwide energy shortage. Basic research will be carried out focused on the potentials of "nanomaterials" for thermoelectricity, working at the boundary between classical and quantum physics. Under nanomaterials several types are meant: One concerns materials which are shaped by reducing one, two or three of its dimensions to sizes of tens of nanometers like in the case of thin films, nanowires and nanoparticles or quantum dots. The second class involves bulk materials which are intentionally engineered to present inhomogeneities in composition at the nanoscale or to contain different constituents of nanometer size such as polymer blends, nanocomposites, multilayers and/or purposely nanostructured materials. The idea is to find the conditions which permit tailoring both their electrical and their thermal conductivity towards the realization of optimum thermoelectric properties in the low and high temperature regime. Thus, NanoTHERM has the ambitious aim to contribute to the achievement of unprecedented thermoelectric efficiencies by pushing to the limit the performance of thermoelectric materials by means of a intelligent, purpose-oriented nanostructuring. The most immediate impact of the proposed research is expected to be in the areas of cooling and electricity generation, waste heat recovery and energy harvesting. The project will tackle the theoretical and experimental physics challenge posed by thermoelectric materials, namely, to be simultaneously good thermal isolators and good electrical conductors. NanoTHERM partners bring together world-class expertise in advanced concepts from solid state physics and physical chemistry, in terms of light-matter interaction and thermal transport, modelling and simulation of processes at the nanoscale, material characterization techniques regarding the thermoelectric properties of nanostructured materials, and designing and realizing thermoelectric modules.


The objective of the nanoTHERM project is to study novel nanoscale-controlled materials and structures to acquire a better understanding of the underlying physics of the connection between the thermal and electrical transports, in order to optimize the design of thermoelectric materials.


CONSOLIDER nanoTHERM press clippings


1. Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology (Coordinator) ICN
2. Universidad Politecnica de Catalonia UPC
3. Materials Science Institute of Barcelona ICMAB-CSIC
4. University of Valencia UVAL
5. Centro Tecnológico LEITAT LEITAT
6. Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona UAB
7. Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Metalúrgicas CENIM-CSIC
8. Universidad del Pais Vasco EHU/UPV


Roberto D'Agosta
Stefan Kurth
Juan M. García Lastra
Duncan Mowbray
Lorenzo Stella
(Angel Rubio)

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