Low-cost electrical contact material developed
New Delhi: RESEARCHERS have developed a new low-cost electrical contact material for thermoelectric devices that is stable at high temperature and gives more than 10 per cent conversion efficiency.
Researchers from the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, have designed and developed thermoelectric modules using lead telluride (PbTe) and magnesium stannite silicide (Mg2Si1-xSnx) compounds, a release from the Union Science and Technology Ministry said.
This work has been published in the journal 'Materials Research Bulletin' recently.
A thermoelectric material can generate electricity by using a temperature difference between its two sides. A thermoelectric device can also function as a small heat pump, moving heat from one side of the device to the other.
Thermoelectric materials convert thermal energy directly into electricity through a process that involves a solid-state electron and photon diffusion process. Though the principle is known for two centuries, it had limited utility as most known thermoelectric materials' energy conversion efficiency is very low. Nanotechnology brought innovations to improve the efficiency of materials, but the mass-market application of such innovations has remained restricted due to the low device conversion efficiency of 6-10 per cent. This makes the electricity produced costlier than other technologies.