Thermoelectric Fabrics

Research @ Louisiana State University 2015

Thermoelectrics are materials that generate electricity using a heat gradient.

Our novel idea was to synthesize thermoelectric nanoparticles and incorporate them into a polymer and a graphene matrix. The former has applications in electricity generating clothing and the latter has the potential to create a new class of high performing composite thermoelectric material.

Bismith telluride crystals were synthesized using a RF furnace and grounded to the nanoscale using a planetary ball mill. For the polymer matrix, the nanoparticles was drop casted onto a polymer substrate called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) and baked overnight at 60 C. Using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), images were taken of the nanoparticles resting on the substrate. It was determined that a lack of interlocking created a poor conductivity network.


The second part of the project was incorporating bismith telluride nanoparticles into a graphene matrix. Graphene is one of the best conductors at room temperature and if graphene could serve as a matrix, holding thermoelectric nanoparticles, then the thermoelectric performance could increase significantly. Basing off existing research of etching graphene patterns using a DVD burner, we applied this novel technique to create graphene. A layer of sonicated graphite oxide and bismith telluride nanoparticles were dropcasted onto a CD disc. A pattern of graphene was then etched using the laser from the DVD burner. The figure of merit was then tested using LabView and imaged using SEM. The result was that the graphene matrix did not act as a good conductive matrix, however the polymer matrix showed promise in its thermoelectric performance.


The presentation poster for this project can be downloaded here.

This project was done under the guidance of Dr. David P Young of Louisiana State University and in conjunction with the Physics & Astronomy Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation.