The purified tin selenide in polycrystalline form has risen to the first place as the best thermoelectric material, that is, capable of converting heat into electricity. This material could be developed for use in solid state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries.
The researchers were able to achieve the high conversion rate after identifying and eliminating an oxidation problem that had degraded performance in previous studies.
Ideal for waste heat
More than 65% of the energy produced worldwide from fossil fuels is lost as waste heat . A key application goal is to capture industrial waste heat, such as from power plants, the automotive industry, and glass and brick factories, and convert it into electricity.
Details of the thermoelectric material and its record performance have been featured in the journal Nature Materials . As explained by the co-author of the research ** Mercouri Kanatzidis **, from Northwestern University, a chemist who specializes in the design of new materials:
Thermoelectric devices are in use, but only in specific applications, such as the Perseverance rover from Mars. These devices have not caught on like solar cells, and there are significant challenges to making good. We are focusing on developing a material that is low cost and high performance and that will push thermoelectric devices to a more widespread application.