Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering



Thermoelectrics: From Materials Discovery to Grid-level Application


Prof. Eric Toberer


Colorado School of Mines


Friday, February 13, 2015 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Prof. Shannon Yee


The ability to store and dispatch renewable energy to the grid remains an outstanding challenge. Success would enable significantly greater grid penetration of renewable energy sources, which are currently limited due to intermittency issues. In this talk, I will discuss on-going efforts to address this challenge at the system and material level. At the system level, there is an opportunity for coupling latent heat storage with thermoelectric generators to yield a modular, distributed and dispatchable electricity source. The state of the art and our initial efforts on this topic (DOE ARPA-E) will be described. The second half of this talk will focus on the development of advanced thermoelectric materials. These efforts are driven by a close coupling of theory, computation, and experimental validation. The implementation of a high through-put search of known and hypothetical compounds for thermoelectric performance (NSF-DMREF) has led to the identification of new classes of thermoelectric materials. Further material development involves demonstrating materials with exceptionally strong phonon-point defect scattering cross-sections. In concert with computation, general design principles for such materials emerge.


Eric Toberer is an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at the Colorado School of Mines with a co-appointment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Much of his current work is on the design of new semiconductors for energy applications, with a focus on photovoltaic and thermoelectric materials. Prior to arriving in Colorado, he was a post-doc at the California Institute of Technology. There, he worked with Jeff Snyder on thermoelectric materials, with a focus on new materials and structure-property relations. As a result of these efforts, Dr. Toberer received the 2011 International Thermoelectric Society Young Investigator Award. Dr. Toberer conducted his graduate work with Ram Seshadri at the University of California, Santa Barbara (20022006) on the synthesis of hierarchically porous materials.


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