Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

George S. Nolas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Srikanth Hariharan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarath Witanachchi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Myung Kim, Ph.D.


Seebeck coefficient, Thermal conductivity, Nanoparticle, Grain-boundary, Interface


The rapid increase in thermoelectric (TE) materials R&D is a consequence of the growing need to increase energy efficiency and independence through waste heat recovery. TE materials enable the direct solid-state conversion of heat into electricity, with little maintenance, noise, or cost. In addition, these compact devices can be incorporated into existing technologies to increase the overall operating efficiency. High efficiency TE materials would enable the practical solid-state conversion of thermal to electrical energy. Optimizing the interdependent physical parameters to achieve acceptable efficiencies requires materials exhibiting a unique combination of properties. This research reports two methods of thermoelectric enhancement: lattice strain effects in silicon-germanium alloy type I clathrates and the nanostructured enhancement of lead chalcogenides.

The synthesis and chemical, structural, and transport properties characterization of Ba8Ga16SixGe30-x type I clathrates with similar Ga-to-group IV element ratios but with increasing Si substitution (4 < x < 14) is reported. Substitution of Si within the Ga-Ge lattice framework of the type I clathrate Ba8Ga16Ge30 results in thermoelectric performance enhancement. The unique dependences of carrier concentration, electrical resistivity, Seebeck coefficient, and carrier effective mass on Si substitution level, may imply a modified band structure with Si substitution. These materials were then further optimized by adjusting the Ga-to-group IV element ratios.

Recent progress in a number of higher efficiency TE materials can be attributed to nanoscale enhancement. Many of these materials demonstrate increased Seebeck coefficient and decreased thermal conductivity due to the phenomenological properties of nanometer length scales. To satisfy the demands of bulk industrial applications requires additional synthesis techniques to incorporate nanostructure directly within a bulk matrix. This research investigates, for the first time, dense dimensional nanocomposites prepared by densifying nanocrystals synthesized employing a solution-phase reaction. Furthermore, the carrier concentration of the PbTe nanocomposites can be adjusted by directly doping the nanocrystals, necessary for power factor optimization. These materials were fully characterized using a low temperature TE transport measurement system, and exhibit enhanced power factors when compared to bulk polycrystalline PbTe with similar carrier concentrations.