SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Akanksha Krishnakumar Menon
TIME: Friday, May 5, 2017, 2:00 p.m.
PLACE: MRDC Building, 4211
TITLE: Developing Organic Thermoelectric Materials and Devices for Energy Harvesting
COMMITTEE: Dr. Shannon Yee, Chair (ME)
Dr. Asegun Henry (ME)
Dr. Samuel Graham (ME)
Dr. Bernard Kippelen (ECE)
Dr. John Reynolds (Chem)


Low grade waste heat is abundant at temperatures below 200°C; this can be recovered and converted directly into electricity using thermoelectric (TE) generators. For energy harvesting applications, conducting polymers are attractive TE materials because they can be abundantly synthesized and have an inherently low thermal conductivity, thus enabling new device architectures. For my dissertation, I am interested in developing design guidelines for high performance thermoelectric polymers and devices. One proposed class of materials are metallo-organic polymers that are n-type, air-stable and electrically conducting. This material system is not well understood so I intend to explore how the central metal atom and organic ligand in the polymer impact thermoelectric properties. I propose to accomplish this by systematically tuning the oxidation level and counterion to obtain transport properties that are positively correlated. I also intend to investigate charge transport physics in these materials by performing temperature-dependent measurements and improving film morphology. Through this understanding, I ultimately propose engineering n-type polymers to improve their TE properties. Finally, given these improvements, I propose exploring new device architectures and fabrication methods that leverage the strengths of conducting polymers. This includes exploring characteristic thermal lengths that guide heat exchanger design, as well as defining an optimum leg length that maximizes power density. These developments will in turn enable low cost TE applications beyond waste heat recovery, such as self-powered sensors and wearable electronics.