New material broke the world record for transformation of heat into electricity

Researchers have created a new type of thermoelectric material, which is twice as efficient than any existing analogues.

Thermoelectric materials can convert heat into electricity. This is due to the fact that in the presence of temperature difference between the two ends, electrical voltage occurs in them and the charged particles begin to move. At the same time, the amount of electricity generated depends on the dimensionless indicator of the QUALITY (ZT), and the higher, the more effective the transformation.

At the best thermoelectrics for today, this figure is at 2.5-2.8. However, a team of scientists from the Vienna Technical University presented a new material in which ZT value reaches 5-6. It is a silicon crystal covered with a thin layer of iron, vanadium, tungsten and aluminum.

The optimal thermoelectric material should demonstrate the strong effect of the Seebeck, to carry out electricity well, but at the same time be a bad thermal conductory. The combinations of the last two factors are a challenge, since they are usually closely connected.

In a clean combination of iron, vanadium, tungsten and aluminum, atoms are distributed evenly in a grazent cubic lattice, that is, between two particles of each metal always the same distance. However, when applying a layer of this material on silicon, its structure is changing, and the location of atoms becomes random.

Such partitions of the distribution change the electronic structure of the material, due to which the current passes through it in a special way, without scattering. At the same time, non-uniformity in the crystal structure worsen thermal conductivity, which enhances the thermoelectric effect.

According to scientists themselves, although the thin layer of the new material will not be able to generate a lot of energy, but it is enough to power the sensors and small electronic devices. They believe that the development has a great potential of application in the production networks of the Internet of things, since it will make rid of wires.

Recall that earlier the team of engineers turned a piece of wood in

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