Thermoelectric (TE) direct conversion of thermal energy into electricity is a novel renewable energy conversion method currently at a technological readiness level of 3–5 approaching laboratory prototypes. While approaching practical thermoelectric devices, an increase in the thermoelectric element’s efficiency is needed at the entire service temperature range. Yet, the main focus of research was concentrated on the electronic properties of the materials, while research on the mechanical properties was left behind. As it is shown in this chapter, knowing and controlling the mechanical properties of TE materials are paramount necessities for approaching practical TEGs. The material’s elastic constants, strength and fracture toughness are the most crucial parameters for designing of practical devices. The elastic constants provide understanding about the material’s stiffness, while strength provides the loading conditions in which the material will keep its original shape. Knowing the fracture toughness provides the stress envelope in which the material could operate and its susceptibility to inherent fabrication faults. The characterization methods of these properties are varied and may be physical or pure mechanical in nature. It is the authors opinion to prefer the mechanical methods, so the results obtained will describe more accurately the material’s response to mechanical loading.
Part of the book: Bringing Thermoelectricity into Reality