Over the past 10–15 years, there have been significant advances in the scientific understanding as well as in the performance of thermoelectric (TE) materials. TE materials can be incorporated into power generation devices that are designed to convert waste heat into useful electrical energy. These TE materials can also be used in solid-state refrigeration devices for cooling applications. The conversion of waste heat into electrical energy will certainly play a role in our current challenge for alternative energy technologies to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This article provides an overview of the various TE phenomena and discusses some of the primary TE materials that are currently being investigated. Several of the key parameters and terminology are defined and discussed along with an overview of some of the current and emerging technologies. The phonon glass–electron crystal approach to new TE materials for developing new materials is presented along with the role of solid-state crystal chemistry and the criteria for higher-performance TE materials. This article discusses TE phenomena, the selection criteria for higher-performance materials, and a few key materials.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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