Outstanding Low Temperature Thermoelectric Power Factor from Completely Organic Thin Films Enabled by Multidimensional Conjugated Nanomaterials

In an effort to create a paintable/printable thermoelectric material, comprised exclusively of organic components, polyaniline (PANi), graphene, and double-walled nanotube (DWNT) are alternately deposited from aqueous solutions using the layer-by-layer assembly technique. Graphene and DWNT are stabilized with an intrinsically conductive polymer, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS). An 80 quadlayer thin film (≈1 μm thick), comprised of a PANi/graphene-PEDOT:PSS/PANi/DWNT-PEDOT:PSS repeating sequence, exhibits unprecedented electrical conductivity (σ ≈ 1.9 × 105 S m−1) and Seebeck coefficient (S ≈ 120 μV K−1) for a completely organic material. These two values yield a thermoelectric power factor (PF = S 2 σ −1) of 2710 μW m−1 K−2, which is the highest value ever reported for a completely organic material and among the highest for any material measured at room temperature. These outstanding properties are attributed to the highly ordered structure in the multilayer assembly. This water-based thermoelectric nanocomposite is competitive with the best inorganic semiconductors (e.g., bismuth telluride) at room temperature and can be applied as a coating to any flexible surface (e.g., fibers in clothing). For the first time, there is a real opportunity to harness waste heat from unconventional sources, such as body heat, to power devices in an environmentally-friendly way.

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Cho, C; Wallace, KL; Tzeng, P; Hsu, JH; Yu, C; Grunlan, JC; Adv. Energy Mater.20166 (7), 1502168-1502176.

Published in Advanced Energy Materials 2016 / Thin Films