Improved Thermoelectric Devices

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OPEN 2009
Raleigh, North Carolina
Project Term:
12/11/2009 - 03/30/2012

Technology Description:

Phononic Devices is working to recapture waste heat and convert it into usable electric power. To do this, the company is using thermoelectric devices, which are made from advanced semiconductor materials that convert heat into electricity or actively remove heat for refrigeration and cooling purposes. Thermoelectric devices resemble computer chips, and they manage heat by manipulating the direction of electrons at the nanoscale. These devices aren't new, but they are currently too inefficient and expensive for widespread use. Phononic Devices is using a high-performance, cost-effective thermoelectric design that will improve the device's efficiency and enable electronics manufacturers to more easily integrate them into their products.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Phononic Devices would improve the efficiency of thermoelectric devices by 30% and make it easier to incorporate energy-saving thermoelectric devices into mainstream cooling, refrigeration, and waste-heat recovery equipment.


Turning waste heat into usable electric power would reduce energy consumption and U.S. dependence on foreign oil.


Efficient, low-grade, waste-heat recovery can eliminate the use of over 400,000 tons of coal per year.


Thermoelectrics have the potential to create a $125 billion industry and save consumers and businesses from wasting their hard-earned money on paying for waste heat.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Eric Toone
Project Contact:
Dr. Anthony Atti
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of Oklahoma

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