Materials Science & Engineering Colloquium
Date: April 15, 2016 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm EDT
Location: Columbia University
Morningside Campus
Room 214 S.W. Mudd
Contact: For further information regarding this event, please contact Chris A. Marianetti by sending email to or by calling 212-854-9478.
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Professor Rachel A. Segalman

University of California, Santa Barbara

"Designing Polymer and Hybrid Thermoelectrics"

Abstract: Thermoelectric materials for energy generation have several advantages over conventional power cycles including lack of moving parts, silent operation, miniaturizability, and CO2 free conversion of heat to electricity. Excellent thermoelectric efficiency requires a combination of high thermopower (S, V/K), high electrical conductivity (σ, S/cm), and low thermal conductivity (κ, W/mK). To date the best materials available have been inorganic compounds with relatively low earth abundance and highly complex, vacuum processing routes (and hence greater expense), such as Bi2Te3. Molecular materials and hybrid organic-inorganics bring the promise of inexpensive, solution processible, mechanically durable devices. While highly conductive polymers are now commonplace, they generally demonstrate low thermopower. Our work on molecular scale junctions indicates that nanostructuring of organics allows them to act as thermionic filters between inorganic junctions which can lead to enhanced thermoelectric properties. We have taken inspiration from this fundamental understanding to design new solution processible material systems with a thermoelectric figure of merit within an order of magnitude of the Bi2Te3. In this talk, I will discuss both the use of thermoelectric measurements to gain insight to organic and hybrid materials and how this insight translates to design principles for thermoelectrics.

Biography: Rachel A. Segalman received her B.S. from the University of Texas at Austin and Ph.D from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Universite Louis Pasteur before joining the faculty of UC Berkeley in 2004 where she was recently the Acting Division Director for Materials Sciences at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories. In the summer of 2014, she moved to UC Santa Barbara to be the Kramer Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials and became Department Chair of Chemical Engineering in 2015. Segalman's group works on controlling the structure and thermodynamics of functional polymers including polymerized ionic liquids and semiconducting and bioinspired polymers. This has led to a host of new and promising applications, particularly in plastic thermoelectrics. Among other awards, Segalman received the 2015 Journal of Polymer Science Innovation Award, the 2012 Dillon Medal from the American Physical Society and is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar.