Oct 30, 2012
Hybrid nanomaterial enhances performance of thermoelectric generator
A variety of carbon nanotube (CNT) and nanoparticle (NP) hybrid nanomaterials have been synthesized by different research groups. The properties of these materials, particularly their optical properties, have been studied in great detail and potential applications include tunable optoelectronic devices, thin-film optical switches, optical chemical sensors and solar cells. Nevertheless, little work has been done to evaluate their thermal response, which is necessary for the design and optimization of components for thermoelectric power generation and infrared sensing applications.
Reporting their results in the journal Nanotechnology, researchers from Louisiana Tech University and the University of Texas at Arlington, both in the US, have synthesized SWNT-CuS NP hybrid nanomaterial using a simple non-covalent chemical route. In the study, the team examined the photoresponse and thermoresponse of the hybrid nanomaterial compared with SWNT thin film under light illumination and thermal radiation. A prototype thermoelectric generator enabled by the SWNT-CuS NPs hybrid nanomaterial was also demonstrated as part of the work.
As well as offering enhanced optical absorption (up to 80%) compared with the pure SWNT thin film and clear optical and thermal switching characteristics, one of the most interesting features of the hybrid nanomaterial thin film is that both photocurrent and thermocurrent can be further enhanced up to 10× by asymmetric illumination of light and thermal radiation on the thin-film devices instead of symmetric illumination.
This observation indicates that the asymmetric illumination scheme can greatly improve the optical or thermal sensitivity of devices featuring the nanohybrid thin film and offers a new possible route to the design and optimization of solar or thermal energy cells.
More details can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.
About the author
Yi-Hsuan Tseng and Yuan He are PhD candidates, who synthesized and analysed SWNT-CuS nanohybrids, and fabricated and tested the thin-film devices under the guidance of Prof. Long Que at Louisiana Tech University, whose group focuses on bionanotechnology and nanoenergy research. Santana Lakshmanan and Chang Yang are graduate students, who synthesized and optimized CuS nanoparticles under the guidance of Prof. Wei Chen at the University of Texas at Arlington, whose group focuses on nanobiotechnology research using functionalized nanoparticles.