Cubic Thermoelectric Compounds


Executive Summary


Thermoelectric devices convert heat into electricity and can play an important role in energy conservation, management and utilization. However, more efficient thermoelectric materials are needed for higher temperature applications. MSU researchers have developed a novel composition with very high thermoelectric figure of merit, which is a measure efficiency.


Description of Technology


Thermoelectric devices based on PbTe and Si/Ge alloys are known and used in power generation facilities to convert waste heat to electricity. However, they have a relatively low thermoelectric figure of merit (ZT) of ~1 which is measure of efficiency of the material in converting heat to electricity. Technology developed by MSU researchers has let to new compositions with ZT > 2 and operating temperatures from 500K to 900K. This allows the technology to be useful for a variety of industrial heat recovery applications. In addition, the compositions are tunable and can be used in photovoltaic cells, thermocouples and electronics.


Key Benefits


  • Very high thermoelectric figure of merit (higher energy efficiency)
  • Wide operating range between 500K and 900K




  • Automotive, heavy truck, military vehicle fuel efficiency improvement
  • Coal, electrical and nuclear energy facilities waste heat recovery
  • Off grid power generators
  • Heaters and coolers, heat pumps
  • Thermocouples
  • Photovoltaic cells


Patent Status:


US Issued Patent 7,592,535


Licensing Rights Available


Full licensing rights available




Mercouri Kanatzidis and Kuei-Fang Hsu


Tech ID:




Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Jon Debling
Technology Manager
Michigan State University