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Highlight Seminar Series: Kanatzidis to speak on nanostructured thermoelectrics

Date: March 6, 2012

Time: 4:30 PM -

Location: Friend 006

Professor Mercouri Kanatzidis of Northwestern University will speak on “Nanostructured Thermoelectrics” as part of the Andlinger Center’s Highlight Seminar Series. The seminar will take place on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 4:30 PM in Friend Center 006. A reception will follow and all members of the community are invited to attend.


It is now amply clear that comprehensive and stable energy strategy would require commensurate attention to all three legs of the “energy stool”; supply (sources), demand (efficiency) and storage/transport (delivery). Further, within the “energy supply” side, a portfolio approach comprising appropriate supply sources is imperative to cater to diverse energy needs; ranging from widely deployable to niche’ thematic applications. In this context, thermoelectric materials, that convert waste thermal energy into useful electrical energy, have an important thematic role to play.

The efficacy and efficiency of thermoelectrics is reflected in the figure of merit ZT, which is directly proportional to the power factor (comprising electrical conductivity and Sebeck coefficient) and inversely proportional to thermal conductivity (comprising carrier and lattice contributions). The recent emergence of nanostructured thermoelectrics has ushered in a new era for bulk thermoelectrics, which show considerable promise to enhance the “contra-indicating” parameters of high electrical conductivity and low thermal conductivity. This is achieved by introducing nanostructures in bulk thermoelectric host materials to significantly reduce lattice thermal conductivity via effective scattering of heat carrying phonon through hierarchical architecture of nanostructured thermoelectrics (nThEs).

The presentation will highlight the considerable potential and realistic prospects for enhanced performance for conversion of waste energy into useful electrical energy of bulk nThEs. The presentation will also outline possible future strategies for enhancing the thermoelectric figure of merit of bulk nThEs.


Mercouri Kanatzidis was born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1957. After obtaining a B.Sc. from Aristotle University in Greece, he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1984. He was a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University from 1985 to 1987 and is currently the the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University. Mercouri moved to Northwestern in the fall of 2006 from Michigan State University where he was a University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry since 1987. Kanatzidis also holds an appointment at Argonne National Laboratory and is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Solid State Chemistry. His group is focused in solid-state inorganic chemistry from exploratory synthesis in chalcogenide and intermetallic materials, thermoelectric applications and porous semiconductors.