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Appl. Sci. 2017, 7(10), 1015; doi:10.3390/app7101015

Material Optimization for a High Power Thermoelectric Generator in Wearable Applications

School of Electrical Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, Korea
School of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Seoul National University (SNU), 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, Korea
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 September 2017 / Revised: 26 September 2017 / Accepted: 26 September 2017 / Published: 30 September 2017
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Thermoelectric power generation using human body heat can be applied to wearable sensors, and various applications are possible. Because the thermoelectric generator (TEG) is highly dependent on the thermoelectric material, research on improving the performance of the thermoelectric material has been conducted. Thus far, in developing thermoelectric materials, the researchers have focused on improving the figure of merit, ZT. For a TEG placed on the human body, however, the power density does not always increase as the material ZT increases. In this study, the material properties and ZT of P-type BiSbTe3 were simulated for carrier concentration ranging from 3 × 1017 to 3 × 1020 cm−3, and the power density of a TEG fabricated from the material dataset was calculated using a thermoelectric resistance model for human body application. The results revealed that the maximum ZT and the maximum power density were formed at different carrier concentrations. The material with maximum ZT showed 28.8% lower power density compared to the maximum obtainable power density. Further analysis confirmed that the mismatch in the optimum carrier concentration for the maximum ZT and maximum power density can be minimized when a material with lower thermal conductivity is used in a TEG. This study shows that the ZT enhancement of materials is not the highest priority in the production of a TEG for human body application, and material engineering to lower the thermal conductivity is required to reduce the optimum point mismatch problem. View Full-Text
Keywords: thermoelectric generator; human body heat; device simulation; first-principles calculation; material engineering thermoelectric generator; human body heat; device simulation; first-principles calculation; material engineering

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Lee, G.; Choi, G.; Kim, C.S.; Kim, Y.J.; Choi, H.; Kim, S.; Kim, H.S.; Lee, W.B.; Cho, B.J. Material Optimization for a High Power Thermoelectric Generator in Wearable Applications. Appl. Sci. 2017, 7, 1015.

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