High Thermoelectric Power Factor Organic Thin Films through Combination of Nanotube Multilayer Assembly and Electrochemical Polymerization

In an effort to produce effective thermoelectric nanocomposites with multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT), layer-by-layer assembly was combined with electrochemical polymerization to create synergy that would produce a high power factor. Nanolayers of MWCNT stabilized with poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) or sodium deoxycholate were alternately deposited from water. Poly(3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene) [PEDOT] was then synthesized electrochemically by using this MWCNT-based multilayer thin film as the working electrode. Microscopic images show a homogeneous distribution of PEDOT around the MWCNT. The electrical resistance, conductivity (σ) and Seebeck coefficient (S) were measured before and after the PEDOT polymerization. A 30 bilayer MWCNT film (<1 μm thick) infused with PEDOT is shown to achieve a power factor (PF = S2σ) of 155 μW/m K2, which is the highest value ever reported for a completely organic MWCNT-based material and competitive with lead telluride at room temperature. The ability of this MWCNT-PEDOT film to generate power was demonstrated with a cylindrical thermoelectric generator that produced 5.5 μW with a 30 K temperature differential. This unique nanocomposite, prepared from water with relatively inexpensive ingredients, should open up new opportunities to recycle waste heat in portable/wearable electronics and other applications where low weight and mechanical flexibility are needed.

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Culebras, M; Cho, C; Krecker, M; Smith, R; Song, S; Gomez, CA; Cantarero, A; Grunlan, JC; ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces20179 (7), 6306-6313.

Published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces January 2017