Arun Majumdar (SIMES Seminar)

Date(s) - Jul 30 2013
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Kavli Auditorium, Building 51, Room 102


Science and Engineering of Solid-State Thermoelectric Energy Conversion

 Arun Majumdar

In the past decade, our laboratory at UC Berkeley and LBL devoted significant effort in understanding the science and engineering of thermoelectric energy conversion based on solid-state material and devices.  The performance, in terms of fraction of Carnot efficiency, of these devices depends monotonically on a non-dimensional group, ZT = S2sT/k, where S is the thermopower or Seebeck coefficient, s is the electrical conductivity, k is the thermal conductivity and T is the absolute temperature. Although each property of ZTS, s, and k—can individually be changed by several orders of magnitude, the interdependence and coupling between these properties have made it extremely difficult to increase ZT > 1 despite five decades of active research.  The thermoelectrics community is widely targeting ZT ³ 3 to make these solid-state systems competitive with traditional mechanical energy conversion systems.  To achieve this, it is important to understand in depth the origins of these transport properties and also how to manipulate them in ways that would either decouple them or leverage their coupling in unique ways.  Finally, this talk will also explore what it would take to design a material to reach the limits of thermoelectric energy conversion.

Dr. Arun Majumdar received a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) in 1985, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989, for research conducted in the laboratory of Professor Chang-Lin Tien. After being on the faculty of Arizona State University (1989-92) and University of California, Santa Barbara (1992-96), he began his faculty appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he held the Almy and Agnes Maynard Chair Professorship in the College of Engineering till October 2009.  In addition to his faculty appointment, he was the Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environment at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Dr. Majumdar has served in an advisory role to many federal agencies including the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.  He also served on the editorial board of Nano Letters, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, and Nano/Microscale Thermophysical Engineering.  Dr. Majumdar has received many awards, and was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering in 2005.  In October 2009, he was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the US Senate to be the founding Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), where he served till June 2012. Between, March 2011 and June 2012, he was also the Acting Under Secretary of Energy at the US Department of Energy.