Compatibility of segmented thermoelectric generators

T. S. Ursell, G. J. Snyder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

53 Scopus citations


It is well known that power generation efficiency improves when materials with appropriate properties are combined either in a cascaded or segmented fashion across a temperature gradient. Past methods for determining materials used in segmentation were mainly concerned with materials that have the highest figure of merit in the temperature range1,2. However, the example of SiGe segmented with Bi2Te3 and/or various skutterudites shows a marked decline in device efficiency even though SiGe has the highest figure of merit in the temperature range. The origin of the incompatibility of SiGe with other thermoelectric materials leads to a general definition of compatibility and intrinsic efficiency. The compatibility factor derived as s = (√l + ZT -1) / dt is a function of only intrinsic material properties and temperature, which is represented by a ratio of current to conduction heat. For maximum efficiency the compatibility factor should not change much with temperature both within a single material, and in the segmented leg as a whole. This leads to a measure of compatibility not only between segments, but also within a segment. General temperature trends show that materials are more self compatible at higher temperatures, and segmentation is more difficult across a larger δT. The compatibility factor can be used as a quantitative guide for deciding whether a material is better suited for segmentation or cascading. Analysis of compatibility factors and intrinsic efficiency for optimal segmentation are discussed, with intent to predict optimal material properties, temperature interfaces, and/or current/heat ratios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings ICT 2002
Subtitle of host publication21st International Conference on Thermoelectrics
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)0780376838
StatePublished - 2002
Event21st International Conference on Thermoelectrics, ICT 2002 - Long Beach, United States
Duration: Aug 25 2002Aug 29 2002

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Thermoelectrics, ICT, Proceedings


Other21st International Conference on Thermoelectrics, ICT 2002
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLong Beach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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