The 29th International Conference on Thermoelectrics (ICT2010) was a great success, fetching large attendance and further establishing a reputation as the industry and academic’s leading international conference in the field of thermoelectrics. It took place at the Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park Hotel from May 30th to June 3rd, 2010. As the second ICT held in China, ICT 2010, supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Chinese Academic of Sciences, was co-organized by Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Science (SICCAS), Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) and Zhejiang University. Prof. Lidong Chen, the conference chairman and the vice director of SICCAS, presided the opening ceremony, and Prof. Hongjie Luo, the director of SICCAS and Dr. Thierry Caillat, chairman of International Thermoelectric Society (ITS), gave the welcome addresses on behalf of the organization committee and ITS, respectively.
Given that thermoelectrics is one of the most promising low carbon technologies, the conference attracted about 440 experts from 32 countries and regions, with this year’s attendees being evenly distributed among the research areas including exploration of novel thermoelectric compounds, design and fabrication of thermoelectric nanocomposites, theoretical research and modeling, system design and optimization, integration of TE devices and application etc.. Partakers, of which 26% were students, soaked up the latest progresses, trends, and insights from colleagues, shared experiences, made new contacts and strengthened existing relationships.
Country and area representation
The main conference agenda was organized according to the latest research progress and interests in the thermoelectric community. The main conference schedule included three plenary sessions and twenty-four parallel sessions broadly focused on the main topics. With 152 oral presentations and 280 posters, the conference session topics were:
- Clathrates & zintl compounds
- Antimonides & half-Heuslers
- Novel materials
- Nanostructure & composite
- Low dimensional materials
- Module & microsystem
- Auto related
- Application of TEG.
Besides five plenary talks, there were twenty-five invited presentations which were carefully arranged to ensure that all the invited presentations did not clash during parallel sessions. Besides, Dr. Hsin Wang, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA, organized a special session that was International collaboration on transport properties measurements: Round-robin tests.
177 manuscripts had been accepted and will be published in the ICT2010 Proceedings which will appear in a special issue of the Journal of Electronic Materials (JEM).
The conference had three plenary sessions featuring five well-known and thought provoking keynote speakers. Opening Plenary presentations on 30th, May were delivered by Prof. Arun Majundar from Department of Energy, USA, Prof. Toshiro Takabatake from Hiroshima University, Japan and Prof. Qingjie Zhang, the president of WTU. Closing plenary speakers on 2nd, June included Dr. John W. Fairbanks from Department of Energy, USA and Prof. H. J. Goldsmid from University of New South Wales, Australia.
Prof. Arun Majundar gave a fascinating speech entitled “Solid-state thermoelectric energy conversion: what do we know and where do we go from here”. He discussed the various scientific developments over the past two decades regarding the role of nanostructures in improving the performance and a near-term roadmap of what else can be done to improve performance. He also discussed possible approaches for power generation and cooling with which thermoelectric devices must compete.
Prof. Qingjie Zhang presented recent development of the research activities on thermoelectric materials and device and their application in China, focusing mainly on the R&D activities in the group of the national basic research program of China (973 program) entitled “Basic research on high-efficiency thermoelectric materials and device”. He reported some interesting results about nanostructured materials, nanocomposite, filled skutterudite, and Bi2Te3– and CoSb3-based high-efficient thermoelectric devices for power generation application.
Prof. Toshiro Takabatake presented their recent findings on the structural, electronic and vibrational behaviors of type-I Ba8Ga16Sn30 and related compounds through thermodynamic and transport measurements as well as microscopic techniques such as Raman scattering, x-ray photoemission, optical conductivity, EXAFS, inelastic neutron scattering. He reported that Ba8Ga16Sn30 shows glasslike thermal conductivity that is ascribed to the strong scattering of acoustic phonons by the low-energy off-center rattling, while still behaving electrically as a heavily doped semiconducting crystal.
Dr. John W. Fairbanks’s speech was on the vehicular thermoelectric applications regarding to thermoelectric air conditioners/heater and thermoelectric generator (TEG). He reported that TEG’s designed by a team led by BSST for Ford and BMW have been tested at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The TEG designed for the BMW X-6 would produce up to 750 Watts on highway. These TEG’s will be introduced commercially in limited numbers in 2012 in the X-6 and a smaller version in the Ford Fusion. GM has also designed their TEG for the Chevy Suburban. These will also be introduced in the 2012 timeframe.
Prof. H. J. Goldsmid gave a very interesting talk about application o f the transverse thermoelectric effects. He pointed out that it is possible to produce thermoelectric effects in which the electrical and thermal flows are perpendicular to one another. These effects are to be found in any material in which the Seebeck coefficient is anisotropic and there is a high ratio of electrical to thermal conductivity. He also emphasized that it is possible to obtain the required parameters in a synthetic material consisting of two phases. The two components A and B should have a large conventional figure of merit and very different electrical and thermal conductivities.
During the conference, four candidates were elected to fill the ITS Board Director openings for more active roles in the ITS business and promotion, and they are, Prof. Jeff Snyder from CalTech, USA, Prof. Wenqing Zhang from SICCAS, China, Prof. Terry Tritt from Clemson University, USA and Dr. Ryoji Funahashi from AIST, Japan.
Also, Young Investigator Award, Goldsmid Award, Outstanding Scientific Paper Award and Outstanding Application Paper Award were granted.
Dr. Xun Shi from SICCAS won the Young Investigator Award.
Dr. Chunlei Wang from Nagoya University won Outstanding Scientific Paper Award.
ICT meeting will be held in Europe the year after next and Danmark won the right to host the 31st International Conference on Thermoelectrics (ICT2012).
There was a small scale of exhibition accompanied the conference. Nine companies participated in the exhibition which was a rare opportunity to expand their business in China as well as in Shanghai. Participants circulated through the exhibition areathroughout the conference, speaking with representatives from exhibiting companies and learning about the latest products and measurement instruments.
List of Exhibitors:
- SPS SYNTEX Inc.
- Guandong Fuxin Electronic Technology Co., Ltd.
- Netzsch Scientific Instruments Trading (Shanghai) Ltd.
- Hangzhou Dahe Thermo-mangetics Co., Ltd. (FerroTec)
- Linseis Inc.
- Ulvac-Riko, Inc.
- Dawning Information Industry Co., Ltd.
- Quick-Ohm Küpper & Co. GmbH
- Thermoelectric Energy Conversion Technology Consortium
CONFERENCE IN SUMMARY
Thanks to the contributions of all attendees, ICT2010 proved a great success. A total of 432 presentations from 32 countries and areas were involved, making it one of the most extensive programme yet. The scale and content of ICT2010 clearly indicate conference participants’ increasing interest in the field of thermoelectric, especially the attendees from host China. Importantly, one can become aware of a new trend and direction of thermoelectric science and technology in future. The exploration of new thermoelectric materials will still be under the instruction of PGEC concept, with the interest being in the modification of crystal structure unit. Nanomaterials, including nanocomposite and nanostructured materials, will still be the research spot in future, but with the emphasis moving to the research on interfacial as well as scattering mechanism by different kinds of nanoparticles. It must be pointed out that more and more researchers will turn the interest into the application, namely, thermoelectric module and system. The most possible application is the TEG installed on the car to make use of the waste heat from the exhausted gas. Hopefully commercial vehicle equipped with TEG will appear within two years. In addition, the further experimental regarding to utilize heat from highway and airfield pavement as well as entrance areas of tunnel make TEG more extensive application.
ICT2010 offered a wide variety of topics, and there were a lot of positive feedback from participants that the sessions they attended, for instance, were greatly appreciated. This was due not only to the quality of presentations itself from speakers but also to the arrangement of the sessions as well as presentation. The program and abstract book was also highly regarded by the attendees for the correlation of page numbers between the program and corresponding abstract, which is the first time in the history of ICT series conference.
Offering a unique platform to embrace all thermoelectric specialists, ICT2010 reflects the mission of the community to promote a multidisciplinary focus on materials optimization and device design while reporting the latest advances on thermoelectrics in the last year. Although thermoelectric technology has been undergoing considerable advances in the last twenty years, the current technological level cannot meet the requirement of the practical application. We are facing an energy crisis because fossil fuel has been our main energy resource for a long time and are running low. We are also facing global warming by emissions of greenhouse gases. We cannot undo what has been done. We need to use alternative and renewable green energy sources for our energy needs. Consequently, for thermoelectric scientists and engineers there are both opportunities and challenges ahead, with the former outstripping the latter. We should work together and take actions so as to enhance the performance, reliability as well as the usage durability of the thermoelectric products in future.