Thermoelectric materials, or materials that can convert waste heat into electricity are promising sources for renewable energy. For a thermoelectric material to be efficient, it must have low thermal conductivity and high electrical conductivity. Prime candidates for these materials are Zintl phases which are semiconductors that can exhibit metallic conductivity due to the contributions of ionic and covalent character. Both the cationic and anionic sites of these compounds can be manipulated to tune the electronic and thermal properties.
The Velian group has developed redox-active nanoclusters that can be tuned electronically with the addition of different transition metals. I plan on linking these nanoclusters with inorganic anionic clusters to form a framework that is analogous to the Zintl phases. I will probe the electronic properties of these new frameworks and optimize their structure for electron transport. This research will provide new insights on the design of thermoelectric materials.
Advisor: Alexandra Velian – Chemistry