3D printing of shape-conformable thermoelectric materials using all-inorganic Bi2Te3-based inks with ionic chalcogenidometallate binders
Fredrick Kim (Advisor : Jae Sung Son)
Nature Energy (2018)

Despite recent improvements in the efficiency of thermoelectric materials, the widespread application of thermoelectric generators is hampered by difficulties in fabricating thermoelectric materials of the appropriate size and shape that would perfectly fit heat sources. Herein, we report the extrusion-based 3D printing of thermoelectric materials to design thermoelectric generators conformable to the geometry of heat sources. All-inorganic viscoelastic inks were synthesised using Sb2Te3 chalcogenidometallate ions as inorganic binders of Bi2Te3-based particles. The 3D printed materials of different sizes and shapes exhibited homogenous properties, and their ZT values of 0.9 (p-type) and 0.6 (n-type) were comparable to the bulk values. Conformal cylindrical thermoelectric generators made of 3D-printed half rings mounted on an alumina pipe were studied both experimentally and computationally. Our results demonstrate an order of magnitude higher energy conversion efficiency than that of conventional planar generators. This promising approach opens a new avenue for designing energy and electronic materials and devices.