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Published February 2011 | Published
Journal Article Open

Ca_3AlSb_3: an inexpensive, non-toxic thermoelectric material for waste heat recovery


Thermoelectric materials directly convert thermal energy into electrical energy, offering a promising solid-state solution for waste heat recovery. For thermoelectric devices to make a significant impact on energy and the environment the major impediments are the efficiency, availability and toxicity of current thermoelectric materials. Typically, efficient thermoelectric materials contain heavy elements such as lead and tellurium that are toxic and not earth abundant. Many materials with unusual structures containing abundant and benign elements are known, but remain unexplored for thermoelectric applications. In this paper we demonstrate, with the discovery of high thermoelectric efficiency in Ca_3AlSb_3, the use of elementary solid-state chemistry and physics to guide the search and optimization of such materials.

Additional Information

© 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Received 1st October 2010, Accepted 9th November 2010. We gratefully acknowledge the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Beckman Foundation, and National Science Foundation for support. We also thank Teruyuki Ikeda for obtaining WDS data and L. D. Zoltan for performing high temperature Seebeck measurements. Espen Flage-Larsen would like to acknowledge support from the Norwegian Research Council and the Norwegian Metacenter for computational Science.

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