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Semiconductor Physics Group


Short rigid molecules can now be tailored to have particular electrical and thermal properties. A self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of such molecules could therefore generate electrical power from a temperature gradient across it, “harvesting” waste energy from the environment. The challenge is to contact the top of the monolayer without shorting through to the other electrode. We are working to extend our recent work with nanocrystals to contact molecules deposited on a gold electrode with a graphene electrode lowered on top of them, forming a sandwich structure in which the electrodes are kept apart by the molecules, even though they are just a few nm long.

Diagram of molecules sandwiched between gold and graphene electrodes

This animation gives a simple overview of our concept of molecular thermoelectric generators: 

Image of thermoelectric graphene device linking to a YouTube animation