Carbon‐Nanotube‐Based Thermoelectric Materials and Devices

Conversion of waste heat to voltage has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a number of critical energy sectors, such as the transportation and electricity‐generation sectors, and manufacturing processes. Thermal energy is also an abundant low‐flux source that can be harnessed to power portable/wearable electronic devices and critical components in remote off‐grid locations. As such, a number of different inorganic and organic materials are being explored for their potential in thermoelectric‐energy‐harvesting devices. Carbon‐based thermoelectric materials are particularly attractive due to their use of nontoxic, abundant source‐materials, their amenability to high‐throughput solution‐phase fabrication routes, and the high specific energy (i.e., W g−1) enabled by their low mass. Single‐walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) represent a unique 1D carbon allotrope with structural, electrical, and thermal properties that enable efficient thermoelectric‐energy conversion. Here, the progress made toward understanding the fundamental thermoelectric properties of SWCNTs, nanotube‐based composites, and thermoelectric devices prepared from these materials is reviewed in detail. This progress illuminates the tremendous potential that carbon‐nanotube‐based materials and composites have for producing high‐performance next‐generation devices for thermoelectric‐energy harvesting.

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J. L. Blackburn, A. J. Ferguson, C. Cho, J. C. Grunlan, Advanced Materials 2018, 30, 1704386.
Published in January 2018