Shockwave Fabrication of High Performance Thermoelectrics

Period of Performance: 01/01/2010 - 12/31/2010


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

TXL Group, Inc.
2000 Wyoming Ave.
El Paso, TX 79903
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Texas at El Paso
500 W University Ave
El Paso, TX 79968


Thermoelectric (TE) generators have the advantages of no moving parts and flexibility in deployment but suffer from low heat to electricity conversion efficiencies, with a major loss component being conductive (phonon) heat transfer through the TE lattice. By using a high pressure shockwave consolidation, nanopowders can be fused into a solid bulk TE material while preserving the nanostructure. The high density of grain boundaries and lattice defects impedes phonon transport while allowing electron flow. Specific Phase 2 research thrusts will be directed at transitioning laboratory fabrication into volume manufacturing, at producing a graded thermoelectric that is optimized for different temperature ranges over the length of the element, and at preparing bulk thermoelectric material from transition metal trichalcogenides that are not appropriate for melt or powder sintered fabrication.