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In a thermoelectric device, a heat source creates a temperature differential across a semiconductor. The temperature differential drives the flow of current within the semiconductor, thereby converting heat to electrical power. To facilitate the flow of current, thermoelectric materials should exhibit high electrical conductivity. But to maintain a large temperature differential, the thermal conductivity should be low. Unfortunately, these two aims are often inconsistent. Motivated by the seminal contribution of Millie Dresselhaus, MIT EECS, Ted Harmon of MIT Lincoln Labs, and Millie's student Lyndon Hicks, recent work has focused on reducing the thermal conductivity by manipulating the nanostructure of the materials.
High Power Density Thermoelectric Generation
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