3D extruded composite thermoelectric threads for flexible energy harvesting

J. Peng*, I. Witting, N. Geisendorfer, M. Wang, M. Chang, A. Jakus, C. Kenel, X. Yan, R. Shah, G. J. Snyder, M. Grayson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Whereas the rigid nature of standard thermoelectrics limits their use, flexible thermoelectric platforms can find much broader applications, for example, in low-power, wearable energy harvesting for internet-of-things applications. Here we realize continuous, flexible thermoelectric threads via a rapid extrusion of 3D-printable composite inks (Bi2Te3n- or p-type micrograins within a non-conducting polymer as a binder) followed by compression through a roller-pair, and we demonstrate their applications in flexible, low-power energy harvesting. The thermoelectric power factors of these threads are enhanced up to 7 orders-of-magnitude after lateral compression, principally due to improved conductivity resulting from reduced void volume fraction and partial alignment of thermoelectric micrograins. This dependence is quantified using a conductivity/Seebeck vise for pressure-controlled studies. The resulting grain-to-grain conductivity is well explained with a modified percolation theory to model a pressure-dependent conductivity. Flexible thermoelectric modules are demonstrated to utilize thermal gradients either parallel or transverse to the thread direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5590
JournalNature communications
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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