Thermoelectric materials can turn a temperature difference into an electric voltage. Among their uses in a variety of specialized applications: generating power on space probes and cooling seats in fancy cars.
University of Miami physicist Joshua Cohn and his collaborators report new surprising properties of a metal named lithium purple-bronze (LiPB) that may impact the search for materials useful in power generation, refrigeration, or energy detection.
“If current efficiencies of thermoelectric materials were doubled, thermoelectric coolers might replace the conventional gas refrigerators in your home,” said Cohn, professor and chairman of the UM Department of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study. “Converting waste heat into electric power, for example, using vehicle exhaust, is a near-term ‘green’ application of such materials.”
The findings are published in the journal Physical Review Letters.