Characterization of bismuth telluride aerogels for thermoelectric applications

Wenting Dong, Wendell Rhine, Greg Caggiano, Owen R. Evans, George Gould, John White, Jeff Sharp, Pat Gilbert, Shreyashi Ganguly, Stephanie L. Brock

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Refrigeration, air conditioning, and other cooling requirements in buildings, industry, and transportation sectors account for about 10 quads of U.S. primary energy consumption. Therefore, advanced technologies for space cooling in buildings and vehicles - as well as for refrigeration in residential, commercial, and industrial applications - that are more energy efficient, avoid net direct greenhouse gas emissions, reduce lifecycle costs, and can impact large markets are needed. Although current technologies are reaching their efficiency limits, thermoelectric (TE) materials can be used for cooling applications and have potential for significant improvements. Compared to traditional bulk phase TE materials, literature results suggest that nanometer-scale materials allow additional opportunities to improve the efficiency of TE materials. Aerogels are one type of nano-material that offers opportunities to increase the efficiency of TE materials by controlling particle size, particle composition and by reducing the thermal conductivity. Bismuth telluride (Bi 2Te 3) is the most studied TE material and our objective was to produce bismuth telluride aerogels with controlled microstructures and thermal conductivities to increase the TE figure of merit. Aspen Aerogels developed a novel synthesis method to prepare Bi 2Te 3 aerogels using the principles of colloidal chemistry and sol-gel chemistry. The reaction conditions were investigated and optimized so that gels could be obtained at low reaction temperatures. The gels were aged and dried using supercritical CO 2. The aerogels were characterized by BET, XRD, and SEM. The best aerogels were hot pressed and Seebeck coefficients were determined. The synthetic approach developed and the properties of the aerogels will be presented and compared with Bi 2Te 3 aerogels and materials prepared by other methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAerogels and Aerogel-Inspired Materials
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event2010 MRS Fall Meeting - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Nov 29 2010Dec 3 2010

Publication series

NameMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0272-9172


Other2010 MRS Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston, MA

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funding from Department of Energy, UAS, with Grant No. DE-SC0000948 (Aspen, Marlow) and the Center for Revolutionary Materials for Solid State Energy Conversion, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DESC0001054 (Wayne State).


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