Method of Non-catalytic formation and Growth of Nanowires and Process for Altering Thermoelectric Properties of a Material

The importance of sustainable energy resources continues to rise along with worldwide energy demands. Solid-state thermoelectric modules have recently seen an increase in interest due to their ability to convert heat energy into electricity and such materials are desirable to harvest the vast amounts of waste heat produced by combustion-based energy generators. The widespread application of thermoelectric devices has been limited by their relatively low device efficiency. Nanoscale wires, also known as nanowires, have received considerable attention in recent years for this important application. One reason for such attention is the unique physical properties these one-dimensional structures can exhibit. One can use the size effect of nanowires as an effective means to tune the electronic and thermal properties of these materials. Methods developed thus far for the formation and growth of nanowires have used catalyst materials. One problem relates to the use of a catalyst in the growth of nanowires which can result in contamination of the nanowire material and additional steps to remove the catalyst from the nanowires. Another problem is the limit methods have to date in separately tuning, altering or changing the electrical conductivity, the thermoelectric power, and/or the thermal conductivity of the electrically conductive material. To address these problems, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a non-catalytic method for the formation and growth of nanowires with the special ability to tune certain parameters in low-dimensional systems. Marc Oettinger 510-642-8355

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