The thermoelectric effect enables sustainable energy harvesting by converting heat flux into electric power, through the so-called Seebeck effect. Recently, doped conjugated organic semiconductors materials attracted great interests as suitable candidates to replace rigid, expensive and toxic inorganic materials used in currently commercial thermoelectric devices, thus enabling high-throughput in large scale realization of low-cost thermoelectric generators for low-power energy harvesting applications, also exploiting printing techniques. Organic materials should then present not only superior thermoelectric performance, but also solution processability and stability to air and moisture, to be easily printed as building blocks of the thermoelectric device. Towards these goals, the research in our group is focused on the enhancement of the thermoelectric performance of different organic and hybrid materials, in particular regarding n-type, by using several suitable doping materials and processes.
Regarding the devices, the group is developing printed thermoelectric generators by considering different materials, fabrication processes and architectures, with both vertical and planar geometries. We already reported a proof-of-concept organic thermoelectric generator embedded in a plastic film and fabricated only by means of direct-writing digital processes, paving the way to mass manufacturing of cost-effective harvesters, achieving a maximum power density of 30.5 nW/cm2 with a ΔT = 25 K around room temperature. Moreover, we are also interested in the characterization of cotton-based sustainable, fully organic and flexible thermoelectric materials for electronic textiles applications, reporting already a proof-of-concept in-plane flexible thermoelectric generator.