Organic Thermoelectricity Bulk and Thin Film Thermo-electric Materials

Two centuries ago, in 1821, the physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck observed that a voltage appears at the junction between two dissimilar materials subjected to a temperature gradient. One decade later, in 1834, Jean Charles Athanase Peltier discovered the mirror effect, e.g. the presence of heating or cooling at a junction of two different conductors traversed by an electric current. Both these phenomena are exploited in thermoelectric materials. The Seebeck effect has been exploited to design of radioisotope thermoelectric generators that were, for example, used to power the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft from NASA.1

For decades, inorganic materials were at the forefront in thermoelectricity. However, the requirements for efficient energy generation opened new perspectives for alternative organic thermoelectric materials based on abundant elements (CHONS) and easy to process at low cost over large areas. Thermoelectric polymers could help recover usable energy from waste heat, eventually in combination with other energy sources, such as light. An alternative application field of these organic TE materials would be in small-scale power supplies for stand-alone applications where batteries or photovoltaic solutions are irrelevant.

1) M. Kemerink, C. Müller, M. L. Chabinyc and M. Brinkmann, Appl. Phys. Lett., 2021, 119, 260401.

STELORG's activities in Thermoelectricity

Bulk porous thermoelectric  materials.

The objectives of developing bulk porous TE materials are three-fold:

- implementing porosity shall allow reducing the lattice contribution to the thermal conductivity, the only isolated parameter in the evaluation of TE materials efficiency (ZT). All other parameters electrical conductivity, Seebeck coefficient and electronic thermal conductivity are interdependent.

- porosity shall allow a better control on dopant diffusion, increasing thus the charge transport properties

- lightweight and bulk size materials can be easily implemented into vertical thermoelectric generators.

The strategy of STELORG is to develop new processes to produce p and n-type porous conducting polymers with control architecture (pore size and shape, pore alignment) and study the structure-properties relationships of these new TE materials.

The activity around thermoelectricity in porous bulk materials is supported by several funded projects. The description of the projects can be found following the links below


ITI HiFunMat Seed Money:

Thermoelectric organic thin films.

Beside bulk materials, TE polymer offer the possibility to work on thin films for which many effective fabrication methods have been developed in organic electronics. Regarding thin films, the strategy of STELORG is hinged on:

 - chemical engineering of new p-type and n-type polymers (ICPEES) with enhanced TE performances,

- controlled processing methods for TE polymers using for instance alignment/crystallization (ICS) and

- precision doping (ICPEES, ICS) to fine tune and optimize the structure and TE properties of doped polymer films.

The activity around thermoelectricity in thin films is supported by several funded projects. The description of the projects can be found following the links below.




Representative publications of STELORG illustrating the results obtained on thermoelectric polymer materials:

  • Q. Weinbach, S.V.Thakkar, A. Carvalho, G. Chaplais, J. Combet, D. Constantin, N. Stein, D. Collin and L. Biniek, Front. Electron. Mater., 2022, 2:875856.
  • Y. Zhong, V. Untilova, D. Muller, S. Guchait, C. Kiefer, L. Herrmann, N. Zimmermann, M. Brosset, T. Heiser and M. Brinkmann, Advanced Functional Materials, 2022, 32, 2202075.
  • P. Durand, H. Zeng, T. Biskup, V. Vijayakumar, V. Untilova, C. Kiefer, B. Heinrich, L. Herrmann, M. Brinkmann and N. Leclerc, Advanced Energy Materials, 2022, 12, 2103049.
  • V. Untilova, H. Zeng, P. Durand, L. Herrmann, N. Leclerc and M. Brinkmann, Macromolecules, 2021, 54, 6073–6084.
  • V. Untilova, T. Biskup, L. Biniek, V. Vijayakumar and M. Brinkmann, Macromolecules, 2020, 53, 2441–2453.
  • A. Hamidi‐Sakr, L. Biniek, J.-L. Bantignies, D. Maurin, L. Herrmann, N. Leclerc, P. Lévêque, V. Vijayakumar, N. Zimmermann and M. Brinkmann, Advanced Functional Materials, 27, 1700173.