Ultrafast Fabrication of Thermoelectric Films by Pulsed Light Sintering of Colloidal Nanoparticles on Flexible and Rigid Substrates


Sintered thermoelectric (TE) nanoparticle films are known to have a high figure-of-merit ZT factor and are considered for waste hear recovery and heating and cooling applications. The conventional process of thermal sintering of TE nanoparticles requires an inert environment and long heating times, and cannot be used on polymer substrates due to the requirements of the process (e.g., heating up to 400 °C). In this communication, the authors demonstrate for the first time the use of an intense flash of UV light from a Xenon lamp to sinter TE nanoparticles within milliseconds under ambient conditions on flexible polymer as well as glass substrates to create functional TE films. Photonic sintering is used to fabricate Bismuth Telluride thermoelectric films with a conductivity of 3200 S m−1 (a 5-6 orders of magnitude increase over unsintered films) and a peak power factor of 30 µW m−1 K−2. Modeling is used to gain an insight into the physical processes occurring during photonic sintering process and identify the critical parameters controlling the process. This work opens-up an exciting possibility of extremely rapid fabrication of TE generators under ambient conditions on a variety of flexible and rigid substrates.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research


National Science Foundation, Grant 1545659

Keywords and Phrases

Bi-Te nanoparticles; energy harvesting; photonic sintering; power factor; thermoelectrics; ZT factor

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1438-1656; 1527-2648

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2019 Wiley, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2019