Conductive polymers for Wearable Thermoelectric Devices

  • Lu, Yannan (Principal Investigator/Chief Investigator A)

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details


Thermoelectric (TE) materials can reclaim some waste energy by generating electricity directly from a temperature (or cool in response to an electric current) without pollution or moving parts. This makes it possible to put energy back where you harvested it from, for example, elongating the mileage on your hybrid car by reusing the heat from the engine to charge the battery. The performance of a thermoelectric material depends on the ability to produce a voltage over a temperature gradient (a high thermopower), but also its ability to conduct electricity (expected be high) and heat (expected be low).
Inorganic materials such as alloys containing bismuth and tellurium are currently the best performing TE materials, but have limitations including the rarity of some elements and associated cost, toxicity, rigid mechanical properties and intrinsic brittleness leading to difficulties in processing. Conjugated polymers have advantages in flexibility, weight, biodegradability, biocompatibility, cost-efficiency, solution-processability and abundance of elements. They are particularly promising candidates for the harvesting of waste thermal energy at temperatures below 250 °C, especially as wearable temperature sensors or power supplies using body heat. To this end, thermoelectric properties of various semi-conductive polymers were optimized through carefully tuning of oxidation levels, density of states and band structure. It is expected that this study will result in wearable/skin-intact TE energy harvesting generators, biometric sensors and health monitoring devices. My aim is the development of this technology using bio-mass derived chemicals.
Effective start/end date25/10/18 → …