An introduction will be presented in setting the context of the world energy outlook as we look into the future global energy needs. Thermoelectricity has played a small role on the energy scene in the past, but with an increase in the thermoelectric conversion efficiency, thermoelectric materials are likely to play an increasing role in the future. Because of the special ability of nanomaterials to show a dependence of materials properties on size, it is possible to control properties in low dimensional materials systems that cannot be independently controlled in bulk materials. Such independent control is especially promising for thermoelectric materials and this promise will be further discussed. A discussion will then be presented about challenges facing the material physics field broadly and within this context we will discuss the promise of nanomaterials in addressing these challenges. A summary will then be given on how we prepare bulk samples containing nanostructured constituents so that the promise of nanostructures can have wider practical applications. Finally we show recent work using thermoelectric nanocomposites to achieve a significant enhancement in the performance of thermoelectric materials, with promise for achieving further enhancement in the future based on present knowledge and on advances in our scientific understanding.
Mildred Dresselhaus is an Institute Professor of Electrical
Engineering and Physics at MIT. She is the recipient of the National Medal of Science and 28 honorary degrees worldwide. She has served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences, President of the American Physical Society, and Chair of the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics. She is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as the Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. Professor Dresselhaus' research over the years has covered a wide range of topics in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics. She is best known for her work on carbon science and carbon nanostructures, as well as nanoscience and nanotechnology more generally. She is also one of the researchers responsible for the resurgence of the Thermoelectrics research field through her early work on low dimensional thermoelectricity in the early 1990's.
Lecture will be streamed online and archived here.