Faculty of Physics

Energy Conversion – Thermoelectrics

The direct conversion of heat into electrical energy is a topic that has experienced a revival in recent years due to the interest in efficient energy usage. Therefore, the search is on for unique semiconductors that deliver low thermal conductivity on the one hand, and are able to deliver high thermoelectric voltage on the other. Calculations on the electronic structure using density functional theory enable the targeted design of these types of materials on computers. In the Kratzer research group, a well-known semiconductor (NiZrSn) and a recently suggested material (CoZrBi) were tested for suitability using computer calculations. It could be proven that faults in the crystal structure, which are inevitable when manufacturing the materials, lead to a reduction in thermoelectric voltage. However, with the new material ZrCoBi, the creation of similar crystal faults is less likely due to energetic reasons.