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Thermoelectric micro-generator to obtain portable and sustainable energy

20th national competition for scientific and technical research

Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Senior Researcher : Olga Caballero Calero

Research Centre or Institution : Instituto de Micro y Nanotecnología - CNM - CSIC. Madrid


Nowadays our society has a growing need to find new sources of sustainable and non-polluting energy, as stated, for instance, in the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Affordable and clean energy). This is closely related to the main objective of the MicroTENERGY project: the obtainment of an alternative to the use of conventional batteries to power microdevices. In our case, the power will come from residual heat sources, which are converted into electricity based on the thermoelectric effect. One of the most interesting applications is the replacement of batteries in wearable devices, such as smart watches, biosensors, or even pacemakers. In these cases, the human body wasted heat would be the energy source. Therefore, for these applications, these generators should be flexible, lightweight, non-toxic and maintenance-free. In a first stage of the MicroTENERGY project, we studied the feasibility of achieving a nano-structured meta-material using easily scalable methods. This meta-material, was based on bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3), a well-known thermoelectric material. In the course of this year, we have continued with the manufacture of these thermoelectric nanostructures fabricated within polymer matrices. Additionally, we have focused on the development of the electrical contacts of the device, improving the upper and lower contacts by electrochemical techniques. In addition, a measurement station has been designed and implemented to start the characterization of the efficiency and intrinsic properties of the meta-materials and devices. This measuring station is currently in testing phase. Also, along this year we have explored an alternative way of obtaining Bi2Te3 nano-structures without using any matrix as template. This novel meta-material is produced by precisely controlling the electrochemical growth parameters, and thus we obtain a nanostructure that consists of interconnected planes. This fundamental study, which began as a way to access the thermoelectric properties of our material at the nanoscale, is moving towards a new way to fabricate and develop the devices proposed in the project.


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles 1
Communications at national conferences 2
Communications at international conferences 3


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