Inorganic and organic thermoelectric (TE) materials have received an extensive scientific interest during the last decades, due to their ability to directly convert the thermal energy to electricity. This is described by the well-known “Seebeck effect”. TE materials can convert also electricity into cooling through the “Peltier effect”. As such, TE materials and thermoelectric generator (TEG) devices can be utilized for potential applications including (i) thermal energy harvesting, (ii) local cooling and (iii) temperature sensing. The direct conversion of heat into electricity has been one of the most attractive solutions to the severe environmental and energy issues the humanity is coming across. This chapter covers the fundamental working principle of TE materials, the synthetic protocols for inorganic and organic thermoelectric materials, techniques and technologies for the fabrication of thermoelectric generators (otherwise defined as thermoelectric module devices) and a number of applications. Finally, future aspects and outlooks for further advancements at the “material” or “device” level for efficient power generation are remarked.
Part of the book: Advanced Thermoelectric Materials for Energy Harvesting Applications