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HEATER Program E-Newsletter

Spring 2016

Summer 2014

Spring 2014


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From the Program Director


Welcome to the spring edition of the HEATER Program newsletter.   As we enter into our 4th year of the program, there are many highlights to discuss, including the week-long school offered by the HEATER Program last fall and the new fellows that have recently joined us.


3rd Annual HEATER Thermoelectrics School and Workshop

University of Toronto, November 9-13, 2015

The third annual HEATER Thermoelectrics School and Workshop was held during the period of November 9-13, 2015.    Approximately 50 participants attended the event including graduate students and professors from eleven universities and seven industry and research institutes.  This event allowed the students an opportunity to interact with speakers and industry experts in an intimate setting.  It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to network and see what options they may have for their professional career.  The week-long school was made possible through support from the Fields Institute, University of Toronto’s Connaught Fund and NSERC CREATE. 

 School Group Pic



Scientific Talks

As a result of funding award by U of T’s Connaught Fund, HEATER was able to produce a well-rounded examination of the thermoelectrics world by bringing in 10 experts to talk about their research.

Professor Li Shi, the BF Goodrich Endowed Professor in Materials Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin gave a lecture entitled Probing Thermal and Thermoelectric Transport in Nanostructures and Complex CrystalsHis presentation reviewed several experiments designed for probing or controlling thermal and thermoelectric properties of nanoscale or complex materials.

Professor David Singh, joined the faculty at the University of Missouri in 2015 after award-winning work at both the US Naval Research Laboratory and the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Professor Singh’s talk entitled Electronic Structure and the Performance of Thermoelectric Materials provided an overview of ZT, strategies for optimizing ZT and ways of identifying new high ZT compositions.

Dr. Kamran Behnia is the Director of Research of the Quantum Matter group of the Laboratoire de Physique et d’Étude des Matériaux (LPEM) at the Ecole Supérieur de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles (ESPCI).  In his talk, Thermoelectricity of Fermi liquids: An Introduction, Dr. Behnia discusses the link between thermoelectricity and non-equilibrium thermodynamics. 

Dr. Sabah Bux is currently is a technologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory working in the thermal energy conversion technologies group where she is the lead researcher and task manager in the development of high performance advanced thermoelectric materials for space applications.  In her talk entitled High Performance Lanthanide Thermoelectrics Materials for Space Applications, Dr. Bux discussed preliminary results of experiments to improve the efficiency of complex materials (n-type La3-xTe4 and p-type Yb14MnSb11) for space applications.

Xun Shi is a Professor in State Key Laboratory of High Performance Ceramics and Superfine Microstructure, Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.  Professor Shi gave two different lectures during the week-long school.  The first entitled Thermoelectric Properties of Cu2X (X=S, Se, or Te) Materials, discussed his research that shows these materials possess extremely abnormal thermoelectric properties with very low thermal conductivity and good thermoelectric figure of merit.  Later in the week Professor Shi discussed Experiments and Measurement Techniques.

Professor David Broido from Boston College whose research interests include theoretical studies of thermal and thermoelectric transport properties of materials using first principles approaches discussed Phonon Thermal Transport in Thermoelectric Materials from First Principles.  During this talk he discussed recent first principles calculations of phonon transport in Bi2Te3, where use of an ab initio molecular dynamics approach is important to accurately describe phonon transport in this prototypical thermoelectric material.

Dr. Michael Koza a researcher at the Institute Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, gave two lectures at the HEATER School.  He first presented his talk Studying Microscopic Dynamics of Thermoelectric Materials by Inelastic Scattering Techniques and Ab Initio Calculations where he presented a characterization of the dynamics of filled skutterudites and of the open-framework compounds AV2Al20 (A = Al, Ga, Sc, La). Also discussed was the aspect of collective dynamics as well as the consequences of ‘rattling’ modes for the lattice thermal conductivity of these compounds.  Later in the week Dr. Koza discussed Neutron scattering tools for the study of structure and dynamics on microscopic scales.

Professor Ferdinand Poudeu, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan discussed  Electronic and Phonon Transports in Semiconductor Nanocomposites.  In this presentation he covered using X-ray powder diffraction, electron microscopy and electronic transports data, the mechanism of nanometer scale phase formation in bulk HH matrix and the mechanism by which the embedded nanostructures regulate electronic charge transport within HH matrices with various doping levels. 

Dr. Rahul Gupta, a senior materials scientist at Marlow Industries Inc., gave a talk entitled Industrial Perspective on Thermoelectrics: Technology Assessment and Recent Developments.  Dr. Gupta discussed the idea that TE modules might also be used as an important source of power-generation, where waste heat can be converted to useful electric energy. Such applications where TE modules are already in use was discussed in detail. His talk also gave an overview of current status of thermoelectricity from technology as well as market point of view.

Dr. Clint Ballinger, the CEO of Evident Thermoelectrics, has a diverse background with dozens of patents and publications in optoelectronics, computational physics, nuclear science, medical physics, energy, nanomaterials and their applications.  His presentation High Temperature Thermoelectrics and Applications covered some of the material and technical aspects of TEGs in the range form 300 – 700C and also addressed some of the market development and commercialization aspects. 



Student Poster Presentations

 Poster 1


Poster 2

Students and post-doctoral fellows were invited to present research posters at a reception following the expert talks.


Local structure investigation of charge-compensated compound defects in double-filled skutterudites Yanyun Hu, Ning Chen, James R. Salvador, Young-June Kim

Thermoelectric behaviour of semiconducting nanowires David Wisniewski (Harry Ruda)

Phonons in Thermoelectric Material Mn15Si26 Randy Belanger and Jennifer Sears (Young-June Kim)

Development of a Test Facility for Thermoelectric Devices and Materials  – Michael Cino (James Cotton) 

Kitaev magnetism in honeycomb RuCl3 Vijay Venkataraman (Hae-Young Kee) 

Engineering topological phases in iridium oxide superlattice with enhanced thermoelectric effect Yige Chen and Hae-Young Kee

Exploring structural features and thermoelectric properties of the Zn-Sb binary system Chivarubhen Raiju Murugaanandan, and Yurij Mozharivskyj


Professional Development, Training Sessions and Other Activities

Along with a diverse set of expert speakers, HEATER was able to offer the school attendees a professional development session, a tour of Canmet, demonstration at the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy and student-led activities.


Rich McAloney and Emanuel Istrate, Impact Centre, University of Toronto led a PD session on Entrepreneurship: Idea to Product. During this introductory two hour session they present examples of University startups and illustrate that entrepreneurship is a viable career option.


Participants toured CANMETMaterials, Natural Resource Canada’s research centre for fabricating, processing and evaluating metals and materials.  The group toured the facility that works on components for a variety of other sectors that rely on high-performance materials, such as defence, aerospace, health and construction.


The HEATER students were given a tour of the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy (CCEM) located at McMaster University. CCEM is a world-class facility for electron microscopy, offering structural and chemical characterization capabilities of variety of materials, from bulk to the atomic-level size scales. Tours consisted of a short introductory presentation, followed by a lab tour of the aberration-corrected TEMs, high-resolution SEMs, the FIB, Atom-probe and the AUGER microscope.


School participants also took part in a training session, led by Ph.D. student Yanyun Hu at the University of Toronto laboratory, demonstrating how to measure the thermal transport properties of a material specimen by using the Quantum Design physical property measurement system (PPMS). The training included (1) the elementary principle of the thermal transport Option (TTO) measurements; (2) TTO hardware and user's kit; (3) sample preparation, sample-mounting considerations and sample puck installation; (4) overview of the TTO software and user interface; and (5) a demonstration of continuous and single measurement modes.



HEATER Activities


Seminar Series


HEATER hosted several seminars during the year 2015-2016.  The HEATER Seminar Series features talks by national and international experts in thermoelectrics.  Generally two seminars are held per year, organized by HEATER Fellows.


On March 16, 2015, Susan Kauzlarich from the University of California, Davis, presented her research on Synthesis and Characterization of Zintl Phases for Thermoelectric Applications.  See the full description here.


On April 27, 2015, Citrad Uher discussed Recent Progress in the Development of Efficient Thermoelectric Materials: the case of Mg2Si1-xSnx solid solutions at McMaster University.  See the full description here.


On April 20, 2016, Terry Hendricks from the Jet Propulsion Lab at NASA discussed Thermal Electric Generator Energy Harvesting Research at NASA-JPL – Where We Are Now & Where Can We Go at McMaster University.  See the full description here.



Professional Development Activities


Along with the session at the HEATER School in November 2015, students participated in a career development session Flexible Futures: You’ve Got Skills led by Jonathan Bray of the University of Toronto’s Career Centre.


Upcoming sessions are on the following dates:


June 28, 2016

July 25, 2016

Aug 22, 2016

See UPCOMING EVENTS for details.


New Fellows


This past fall the HEATER Program welcomed several new fellows.


Ahmed Ali, a mechanical engineering master’s student at McMaster University is working with Professor Jim Cotton on developing a manufacturing technique for annular design thermoelectric generators.


Allan He, a chemistry and chemical biology doctoral student at McMaster is working with Professor Mozharivskyj.  His research focusses on synthesis, purification, and analysis of Zn3Sb2 phase.  The effects of different dopants on the physical properties of the system are also a main topic of exploration.


Parisa Jafarzadeh, a doctoral student at Waterloo is working with Holger Kleinke.  The ultimate goal of her work is to develop a long time stable copper chalcogenide thermoelectric materials. To achieve this, they plan to identify and optimize new higher copper chalcogenides.


Yixuan Shi, a chemistry doctoral student at the University of Waterloo is working with Holger Kleinke researching Thallium Tellurides. Thus far she has optimized the synthesis conditions for TlSbTe2 and tried to improve its thermoelectric properties by doping other elements.


Alex Tseng, a materials science and engineering masters’ student at the University of Toronto is working with Professor Harry Ruda to investigate the impact of surface functionalization on electronic transport and thermoelectric properties of InAs nanowires.


Fang Yuan, a chemistry and chemical engineering Ph.D. student is working with Professor Yurij Mozharivskyj at McMaster University.  She is working on the synthesis, crystal structure, and physical properties of novel thermoelectric material by X-ray diffraction, electronic structure calculations, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and microprobe analysis.


Travel Grants 

All HEATER Fellows have access to a pool of travel funding to help cover costs of thermoelectrics-related travel outside the area of their home institution.  Travel grants can be used to cover a wide variety of activities, including attending workshops, training sessions, visiting collaborator’s facilities and research at world-class facilities.  While some travel funding can be used for academic conferences, training and collaboration should be the main focus when travel grant requests are made.


Approval for the travel grant should be made BEFORE travel occurs, by submitting the travel application form for approval.  Please contact the Program Coordinator for an application form.




We welcome applications for the next HEATER Graduate Fellowship. The fellowship provides a $13,000 per year stipend to qualified graduate students completing a Thermoelectrics-focused research project.

The unique structure of the HEATER Program allows students to take part in three complementary training areas: an industrial placement, in which students spend 20% of their time, the HEATER Summer School and Seminar Series, and professional skills training courses. The fellowship is open to students at McMaster University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto at the Master’s and PhD levels.


Please visit our website to download the application package. If you have any questions about the fellowship, please contact the HEATER Program Coordinator.


The deadline for application is September 16, 2016. 






From the Program Director

Welcome to the summer edition of the HEATER Program newsletter.  In this edition, you will read about our summer activities, including the second annual Thermoelectrics Summer School. The School was a great success this year, welcoming over 40 students from universities across Canada and worldwide.

We will also provide you with information about our seminar series, and give you research updates from our participating research groups. In addition, there is a HEATER fellowship available commencing this fall, and application details are available below. For more information on the program, please visit our website or contact us via email.

In July I had a chance to attend the International Thermoelectrics Conference in Nashville (link?). It was well attended by many researchers from all over the world, including many from industry. The scientific program was very interesting and there were some very exciting new developments reported during the conference. Next year’s conference will be held in Dresden, Germany, and we will be able to provide limited travel support for HEATER fellows next summer.


Thermoelectrics Summer School 2014

The second annual Thermoelectrics Summer School took place at the University of Toronto on July 11th and 12th.  The School brought together experts from academia and industry with students and PIs, providing a unique training opportunity in this growing field.

Scientific Talks

The Summer School featured six talks by five influential researchers in the field of thermoelectrics.

Dr. Qiang Li, a tenured physicist in the Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Labroatory, and head of the Advanced Energy Materials group, gave a lecture entitled Fundamental Understanding of Thermoelectric Materials, where he discussed recent works on thermoelectric materials aimed at fundamental understanding of their electronic structures and phonon density of states.

Professor George Nolas of the University of South Florida joined Dr. Li. Dr. Nolas researches experimental solid states and material physics, as well as new materials for energy-related applications with a focus on thermoelectrics. In his talk entitled Making Materials: Traditional, Innovative and Unique Approaches to New Thermoelectric Materials Research, he gave an overview of the different synthetic approaches employed in research on materials for energy-related applications, many of which are used in his laboratory, and provided examples of the different materials synthesized.

Professor Joseph Poon of the University of Virginia presented two lectures to the Summer School.  The first, Practical Realization of ZT>1 from the Materials Perspective,  discussed various aspects of thermoelectric materials research, including those from his collaborative studies, and looked at new approaches geared towards improving ZT and existing material systems.  In his second talk, Thermal Conductivity of Nanostructured Materials: An Effective Medium Approach, Professor Poon introduced an efficient and economic method for computing the lattice thermal conductivity for composite materials, the effective medium approach (EMA). Professor Poon is the William Barton Rogers Professor and Chair of the Physics Department at the University of Virginia. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Dr. James Salvador is a materials researcher for General Motors, and the principal investigator for the Department of Energy, General Motor’s led program focused on the commercialization of thermoelectric based waste heat recovery for fuel economy improvement.  His lecture, Opportunities and Challenges for Automotive Thermoelectric Waste Heat Recovery Applications, examined the challenges faced when trying to incorporate waste heat capture technology into a vehicle, and ways of mitigating these effects. Within this framework, Dr. Salvador presented GM R&D’s recent progress on the development of a thermoelectric generator for a full size truck application.

Dr. Yu-Chih Tseng, a Research Scientist with Natural Resources Canada works on integrating low-cost thermoelectric materials into waste heat recovery technologies for automobiles. In his talk, Integration of low-cost and earth-abundant thermoelectric materials into vehicle exhaust for waste heat recover – a status update, Dr. Tseng discussed his current project which explores the use of low-cost silicide thermoelectric materials for recovering waste heat from automobile exhaust. He discussed CANMET’s internal effort and collaboration with the HEATER program in developing a waste-heat recovery technology based on silicide TE materials, from device design to materials development, using a multi-disciplinary approach.


Professional Development and Training Session

Our program also focuses on imparting the professional skills needed for success in a variety of fields, from academic research to industry. Every year, the Thermoelectrics Summer School addresses this by holding a student lunch and Professional Development session to complement the scientific talks. This year, Candice Stoliker of the Career Centre discussed communication in the workplace. Students analyzed communication scenarios and learned valuable networking and active listening techniques.

We also offered a hands-on training session on the Thermoelectric Properties Measurement System.  Unfortunately, the delay in installation made the “hands-on” part of the session very short. This system will be installed in the existing Quantum Design PPMS, and will allow users to obtain full ZT values from 2-400 K range. What is unique is that this system can provide Seebeck, thermal conductivity, and electrical conductivity on one sample through simultaneous measurements in one temperature sweep. The PPMS system is also equipped with 14 T superconducting magnet, which allows one to extract carrier density and mobility through Hall effect measurement. This system is available to all researchers for a fee and discounted pricing is available for academic users.


Student Poster Presentations

Students and post-doctoral fellows were invited to present research posters at the welcoming reception of the Summer School. The seven posters presented demonstrated the diversity of research being done by students, and gave trainees an opportunity to showcase their work in front of leaders in the field. Below are the abstracts of these posters as presented on July 11, 2014. 


Exploring Thermoelectric Materials with Synchrotron X-rays

J.P. Clancy, A. Abdolmaleki, Y. Hu, J.P.C. Ruff, J.P. Castellan, D.S. Robinson, S.-W. Cheong, and Y.-J. Kim

Traditionally, most scientists associate x-ray scattering with the determination of crystal structures.  However, with the rapid   development of modern synchrotrons, today’s x-ray sources have much to offer beyond conventional diffraction.  In this poster I will describe how synchrotron x-rays can be used to extract important physical information which is relevant to the study of thermoelectric materials.  In particular, I will discuss how techniques such as inelastic x-ray scattering (IXS), x-ray pair distribution function (PDF) analysis, and extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS)mcan be used to probe lattice dynamics, measure detailed phonon dispersion relations, and investigate local structure, distortions, and disorder.  I will also discuss recent efforts to use thermalmdiffuse scattering (TDS) techniques to perform rapid three-dimensional mapping of low-lying phonon modes in the thermoelectric PbTe. 

Electrical conductivity modeling of carbon nanotube networks in polymer nanocomposites

Weiqing Fang and Hwi Won Jang

Due to its remarkable electrical and mechanical properties, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are embedded in polymers to produce thermoelectric materials with light weight, good processability and low cost. In an attempt to accurately predict and optimize the electrical properties CNT-filled polymer nancomposites (PNC), we are proposing an advanced statistical modeling scheme for the formation of 3D resistor network of CNTs inside the polymer matrix. In this improved model, a rectangular cell composed of two adjacent representative cells of the same dimensions is considered. A mathematical model for electrical conductivity (σ) of the PNC matrix is formulated based on conductance of the rectangular cell and the average conductance of the two adjacent unit cells, accounting for the conductance contributed by continued CNT network across the boundary surface. This new feature enhances accuracy of the Monte Carlo simulation of the 3D resistor model, especially when using a representative element of small volume. Moreover, our simulation results revealed that σ is dependent on the unit cell edge length in one particular direction – along which σ is measured – only and is independent of the dimensions in the other two directions. Accordingly, the unit cell dimensions were selected to minimize the computational cost and ensure accuracy at the same time. Based on the refined model, percolation threshold (fc) and electrical conductivity of PNCs were calculated and the influence of CNT orientation, length distribution and aspect ratio (L/D) were investigated.


Investigation of the RE-Sb-O phases for thermoelectric applications (RE is a rare-earth element)

Scott Forbes, Chivarubhen Raiju Murugaanandan, Yurij Mozharivskyj

McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8S 4M1

Thermoelectric materials have the capability of converting heat into electricity and vice-versa. Unfortunately, one such requirement for a good thermoelectric is the combination of a high electrical conductivity, a high Seebeck coefficient, and a low thermal conductivity. Such a combination of properties is rarely seen in most materials, and presents a great challenge to preparing new and efficient structures. One such possibility is the use of complex suboxides, which are electrically conducting and thermally insulating1, and may behave as phonon glass, electron crystal systems (PGECs).2

Our experiments on the RE-Sb-O system have yielded several new structures with interesting properties that may be applied to thermoelectrics research. Many of these phases can be categorized as belonging to a REmSbnOm series, with systematic elongations of the RE-O framework, forming multiple structures with similar RE4O tetrahedral stacking sequences. Another set can be described as a RE2-xSbO series, which adopts different symmetries based on the RE content of the sample, and each member containing a natural superlattice type structure with alternating sequences of ordered RE-Sb layers and disordered RE-O layers. The preparation, structure, and physical properties of these phases will be presented, and potential for thermoelectric applications will be discussed.

1.      Koumoto, K.; Terasaki, I. and Funahashi, R. MRS Bulletin 2006, 31, 206-210.

2.      Slack, G. A., CRC Handbook of Thermoelectrics 1995.

Optimizing the thermoelectric properties of Mo3Sb7 by double substitution

Quansheng Guo, Holger Kleinke

Department of Chemistry and Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1

†Electronic mail:

Thermoelectric materials have drawn significant attention due to their ability to convert the waste heat into electricity directly, among which Mo3Sb7, a Zintl phase, possesses the potential to be utilized in the intermediate to high temperature range. However, the binary Mo3Sb7 with a giant reduced electrochemical potential is p-type metallic, exhibiting poor thermoelectric properties. Fortunately, high performances have been achieved through introducing electrons by alloying on the Mo site or the Sb site, which is manifested by Mo3Sb5.2Te1.8 and Mo2.57Fe0.43Sb7.

Here we systematically investigate the effects of Fe content on the thermoelectric properties of Mo3-xFexSb7 (0 ≤ x ≤ 0.5). Based on the preliminary results of Mo3-xFexSb7, Mo2.55Fe0.45Sb7-yTey (0 ≤ y ≤ 0.5) are also studied with the attempts to minimize the content of expensive Te and to maximize thermoelectric figure of merit zT.

All the compounds have been prepared by the combination of solid-state reaction and subsequent hot pressing (HP). Powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) results indicate that the samples often contain a small amount of Sb and the solubility limit of Fe is below x = 0.50. Temperature dependences of the electrical conductivity s, Seebeck coefficient a and thermal conductivity k have been measured in the range 300 K – 800 K.  It is demonstrated that a partial substitution of Mo by Fe and a further substitution of Sb by Te may effectively improve the electrical transport properties presumably due to the optimized carrier concentration and remarkably reduce the thermal conductivity, thereby leading to a substantially enhanced zT (= a2sT/ k) of 0.29 and 0.32 at around 800 K for Mo2.55Fe0.45Sb7 and Mo2.55Fe0.45Sb6.5Te0.5, respectively.


A novel Experimental test facility developed in McMaster TMRL

Mustafa Morsy

Department of Mechanical Engineering, McMaster University

The Poster illustrates a novel Experimental test facility that was developed in McMaster TMRL –Thermal Management Research Labs-. The experimental test facility is used to to characterize thermal and electrical performance of annular thermoelectric generator (TEG) modules for different thermal and electric loadings. Measurements of output electric power, voltage, current, and thermal conductance can be made simultaneously as functions of load resistance and surface temperatures. This facility is unique in its capability of performing the experiments with an energy balance of 7 % between the input and output energy to and from the TEG.


The Synthesis and Thermoelectric Optimization of Half Heusler Intermetallics 

Mathew Van Zant

Department of Chemistry and Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1


The purpose of this project is to synthesize n-type and p-type Half Heusler compounds and optimize the dimensionless figure of merit. Ti0.5Zr0.25Hf0.25NiSn0.998Sb0.002 and Ti0.5Zr0.25Hf0.25CoxNi1-xSn compounds will be studied. Techniques such as nano-structuring and incorporating nano-composites will be tested and applied on these compounds to decrease thermal conductivity. More specifically, ball-milling and ZrO2 nano-composites will be used.  

     An effective method for synthesizing high purity TiNiSn and HfNiSn samples has been established. Physical property measurements have been performed on TiNiSn samples, resulting in a maximum ZT of approximately 0.3 at 800K. The next steps involve measuring the physical properties of HfNiSn samples, and synthesizing pure samples of Ti0.5Hf0.5NiSn and Ti0.5Zr0.25Hf0.25NiSn. Following this, Ti0.5Zr0.25Hf0.25NiSn0.998Sb­0.002 and Ti0.5Zr0.25Hf0.25CoxNi1-xSn compounds will be prepared. For the Ti0.5Zr0.25Hf0.25CoxNi1-xSn compounds, ZT will be optimized by varying the doping concentration. Finally, ZrO2 nano-composites and ball milling will be used to further optimize ZT.    


Thermoelectric Properties of a ZnSe Nanowire Twinning Superlattice

David Wisniewski

Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Toronto

Renewable sources of energy constitute a financially lucrative market, and have far-reaching beneficial environmental implications. While solar cells and wind turbines have gained widespread implementation, waste heat is a nearly untapped source of energy. One way to harvest this energy is to use a thermoelectric material to build a heat-converting device that outputs an electric current. Presently, thermoelectric devices do exist, but have poor conversion efficiencies and are not financially viable sources of alternative energy. Advancements in thermoelectric devices can be achieved by seeking alternate materials that possess enhanced electrical and thermal properties. 

A nanowire twinning superlattice (NTSL) is a type of superlattice composed of periodically arranged twin planes along the length of a nanowire. NTSLs possess a number of unusual electrical and thermal properties, such as the formation of an electronic miniband structure, and side-faceting that can lead to phonon back-scattering. These two characteristics suggest that NTSLs can have tunable electronic and thermal properties, making them attractive candidates for thermoelectric applications.

In this research, the electronic properties of a ZnSe NTSL were examined, starting from a self-consistent solution to the Schrodinger equation. Using a Boltzmann transport formulation, the Seebeck coefficient and thermoelectric figure of merit were derived and evaluated for applicability in a thermoelectric device. These results are interesting from a fundamental point of view as NTSLs are among the least studied nanowire structures.



Seminar Series


The HEATER Seminar Series features talks by national and international experts in thermoelectrics. The seminars showcase recent breakthroughs and challenges for thermoelectrics, and welcome speakers from industry, academia and government.

On August 11, the HEATER Seminar Series welcomed Professor Kefeng Cai of Tongji University. Professor Cai discussed his group’s recent research and gave an overview of the progress they have made looking at polymer and polymer based thermoelectric materials

Visit this page for more information on Professor Cai’s talk.

The next HEATER Seminar will be held on November 14, 2014, in conjunction with the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering (CINS) Annual General Meeting.  Dr. Olivier Delaire of Oak Ridge National Laboratory will give the keynote lecture.  More details regarding the CINS AGM and the HEATER Seminar will be available on both the HEATER and the CINS websites shortly. 


Research Updates

Vijay Shankar Venkataraman


Hae-Young Kee Group

Our work is on gaining an understanding of the thermoelectric properties of higher manganese silicides (HMS) comprising of Mn4Si7, Mn11Si19, Mn15Si26,and Mn27Si47.While the figure of merit (the efficiency at which waste heat is converted to electric power) is lower than other materials that are under active research based on Lead (Pb), Tellurium or Bismuth (Bi); the relative abundance of its constituents, Manganese (Mn) and Silicon (Si), makes HMS more viable economically. All the HMS are tetragonal crystals based on the TiSi2 structure with increasing number of subcells stacked along the c-axis. Thus, it is important to understand how subcell stacking affects the electron and phonon transport. To gain insight on this, we have constructed a tight-binding model for the band structure of Mn4Si7 with inputs from density functional theory calculations and are currently studying the effects of stacking using this model.


Jacob Gordon

HEATER Undergraduate Research Fellow

Hae-Young Kee Group

Our work this summer has focused on the thermoelectric material SnSe, which achieves an unprecedented figure of merit (measuring the efficiency of electric power conversion from waste heat) of 2.6 +/- 0.3 at 923 K. To understand such a high figure of merit, we first aim to find a relevant Hamiltonian which captures the physical properties of SnSe. As such, we have constructed an effective Hamiltonian describing SnSe using the tight-binding approximation as well as first-principle calculations. The present goal is to compute the so-called topological invariants via knowledge of the Bloch wavefunctions; a calculation which could indicate the essence of the topological nature of SnSe. If this model supports a topological phase, the accompanying gap-less edge states could play a role in the large figure of merit of SnSe.


Call for Applications

We welcome applications for the next HEATER Graduate Fellowship. The fellowship provides a $13,000 per year stipend to qualified graduate students completing a Thermoelectrics-focused research project.

The unique structure of the HEATER Program allows students to take part in three complementary training areas: an industrial placement, in which students spend 20% of their time, the HEATER Summer School and Seminar Series, and professional skills training courses. The fellowship is open to students at McMaster University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto at the Master’s and PhD levels.

Please visit our website to download the application package. If you have any questions about the fellowship, please contact the HEATER Program Coordinator.

The deadline for application is September 15, 2014.




From the Program Director

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the HEATER Program newsletter. We will publish three editions of this newsletter a year to inform you of current undertakings in the program, upcoming seminars and schools, research, and student opportunities. For future editions, we would like to get input from you, highlighting research breakthroughs or high impact publications. 

In this edition we introduce the HEATER Program and our current Fellows and their research. For more information on the Program, please visit our website or contact us via email.


Introduction to the HEATER Program

The HEATER Program (Highly Effective Application of ThermoElectrics Research) trains students of all levels focusing on thermoelectrics materials research. Students are given the opportunity to interact with global leaders in the field, while emphasizing industrial partnerships and professional skills development.

Generously funded by NSERC-CREATE, the HEATER Program is made up of an interdisciplinary consortium of highly productive research groups spans the fields of physics, engineering and chemistry. Our program encompasses three universities and 8 primary investigators in Southern Ontario. See more about our faculty.

For more information about the Program, please visit our website. We are always looking for input from the thermoelectrics community - please feel free to send us photos from your research projects and trips, and updates on biographies. 


HEATER Graduate Fellows

The HEATER Graduate Fellowship is the backbone of our program. Our Fellows are graduate students working on research projects related to thermoelectrics. The HEATER Program allows these students to expand their sphere of knowledge through participation in industrial internships and the Summer School and Seminar Series.  

In 2014, we welcomed 10 HEATER Fellows:

Scott Forbes is a PhD candidate at McMaster University working in the research group of Dr. Yurij Mozharivskyj. Scott’s research goal is to study and optimize the thermal stability of the Zn4Sb3 structure as a result of a series of dopants, maximizing the attainable thermoelectric efficiency.

Quansheng Guo, a PhD candidate in the group of Dr. Holger Kleinke at the University of Waterloo, studies the thermoelectric properties of Mo3Sb7 variants.

Yanyun Hu, a PhD student, works in the group of Dr. Young-June Kim at the University of Toronto. Using neuron scattering measurements and model-based computations of the phonons in PbTe and other potential thermoelectric materials, she examines how the microscopic processes affect the bulk thermal conductivity. 

Mustafa Morsy, a MASc student at McMaster University, works with Dr. James Cotton to experimentally characterize the performance of the new proposed annular TEG design, comparing its performace to the conventional commercial flat plat TEGs.

Chivarubhen Raiju Murugaanandan is an MSc student. Working with Dr. Yurij Mozharivskyj, Chivarubhen works on turning the p-type Zn4Sb3 thermoelectric material into the n-type one.

Jennifer Sears is a PhD student in the group of Dr. Young-June Kim. Jennifer looks at X-ray scattering studies of novel thermoelectric materials.

Yao Tian is in the research group of Dr. Kenneth Burch at the University of Toronto. A PhD student, Yao uses Tip enhanced Raman spectroscopy to study the phonon structure of TEC.

Mathew VanZant is an MSc student in the group of Dr. Holger Kleinke. His goal is to improve the thermoelectric effectiveness of both the n-type and p-type Half-Heusler semiconductors.

Vijay Shankar Venkataraman is a PhD student in the research group of Dr. Hae-Young Kee at the University of Toronto. Vijay examines the thermoelectric properties of higher manganese silicides using a combination of ab-initio density functional computations and theoretical modeling.

David Wisniewksi, a MASc student in the group of Dr. Harry Ruda at the University of Toronto, studies the thermoelectric nanowires (Bi2Se3 and Bi2Te3) using optical excitation (both photoluminescence and time-resolved spectroscopy) to probe their electron transport properties.

HEATER Seminar Series


The HEATER Seminar Series features talks by national and international experts in thermoelectrics . Organized by HEATER Fellows, the seminars showcase speakers from industry, academia and government discussing recent breakthroughs and challenges for thermoelectrics.

On March 14, we welcomed Professor Ali Shakouri, the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Centre and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.

Speaking to an interdisciplinary audience comprised of physics, chemistry and engineering students, Professor Shakouri discussed nanoscale thermal transport and thermoelectric energy conversion.

Visit this page for more information on Professor Shakouri’s fascinating talk.

On April 8, the HEATER Seminar Series featured a talk from Professor Xianfan Xu, James J. and Carol L. Shuttleworth Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. Professor Xu spoke to the group about thermoelectrics for automobile waste heat recovery.

Please visit the Seminar page for detail regarding Professor Xu's talk.


HEATER Postdoctoral Fellow: Dr. Patrick Clancy

Pat's research involves the study of novel materials using x-ray and neutron scattering techniques.  His work on thermoelectric materials is focused on utilizing synchrotron x-rays to investigate lattice dynamics and local structure.

Pat has been working with Prof. Young-June Kim at the University of Toronto since 2011.  He has previously held positions as a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2011-2013) and an Ontario Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-2013).  He performed his graduate work at McMaster University, and his undergraduate work at St. Francis Xavier University.  He is  originally from the town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  In addition to thermoelectric materials, Pat's research interests also include iridium-based quantum materials, high temperature superconductors, and  low-dimensional and geometrically frustrated magnetic systems.  In 2013 he was awarded the Polanyi Prize in Physics.


Thermoelectric Properties Measurement System

In April 2013, Professor Young-June Kim's research group was awarded an NSERC Research Tools and Instruments Grant. This grant will allow Professor Kim to acquire a thermal transport option, to be installed into the existing Quantum Design Physical Properties Measurement System (PPMS).

 This system will be one of the main experimental facilities supporting the HEATER Program. It will allow researchers to measure thermal conductivity, the Seebeck coefficient, and electrical conductivity in order to obtain the thermoelectric figure of merit over a wide range of temperatures (2K - 400K)

We hope that the new system will be used by all researchers participating in the HEATER Program, including trainees participating in the upcoming Summer School. We will update you regarding our progress with this experimental capability. 


Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Every summer, the HEATER Program welcomes a number of undergraduate students into the research groups of our PIs. Through this research fellowship, students are able to work closely with researchers and graduate students on the cutting edge of thermoelectrics research. They attend the HEATER Summer School and receive feedback on their work through presentations and workshops.

Limited positions may still be available. Contact the HEATER Program if interested. 

In summer 2014, we will welcome the following students to the program:

Jacob Gordon, working as a member of Hae-Young Kee’s group at the University of Toronto, will be trained to develop a microscopic Hamiltonian relevant for a specific material, gaining an advanced education on tight binding models and band theory within the second quantization scheme. Jacob will compute the band structure and Berry phase to understand the topological nature of materials, and will then investigate the transport properties to find an optimum thermoelectric material.

Arthur Pang will be directly involved in measuring the micro-Raman response of thermoelectric materials. As a member of Kenneth Burch’s group at the University of Toronto, Arthur will also assist with the optimizing of the Tip Enhanced and Micro-Raman systems for Thermoelectrics. He will focus on measuring the properties of Bi2Te3 nanostructures produced in the Burch and Harry Ruda groups.

Bo Yuan will be working with the Young-June Kim group at the University of Toronto. Bo will participate in both materials synthesis as well as materials characterization. In particular, he will measure electrical and thermal conductivity over a wide temperature range, synthesizing various thermoelectric compounds based on PbTe and Bi2Te3. 

The HEATER School in Thermoelectrics Training and Research, July 11-12, 2014

Join us for the second annual HEATER School in Thermoelectrics Training and Research!

This year’s School takes place on July 11- 12 at the University of Toronto.

Bringing experts from academia and industry together with trainees and collaborators, the School provides a unique training opportunity. With Professional Development workshops and research presentations for students, this is an unparalleled opportunity for students to grow as researchers and connect with leaders in the field of thermoelectrics.

Registration and speaker announcements will soon be available - please visit the Summer School website for updates. 


Professional Development

Key to the CREATE program is imparting professional skills imperative for success in many fields, from academic research to industry.  In collaboration with the University of Toronto Career Centre, and Dr. Raj Dhiman, a specialist in communications training for scientists, we held our first Professional Development workshop on March 24, 2014.

This initial workshop focused on the essential skill of Knowledge Translation, the process of converting knowledge into action. Through case studies and active learning opportunities, Dr. Dhiman outlined the process researchers should take to engage groups outside of academia. CREATE Fellows took up cases related to their research areas, which encouraged them to view their research through the lens of outside audiences and underlined the importance of communicating findings in a clear and compelling way.

This workshop was open to other CREATE programs around the University of Toronto. HEATER Fellows were joined by students from the Manufacturing, Materials and Mimetics Program, the Arctic Atmospheric Science Training Program, and the program in Distributed Generation for Remote Communities.

Our Professional Development workshops will continue at the Summer School. In Fall 2014, we will launch a PD curriculum for CREATE Fellows, allowing them to further hone their professional skills in anticipation of whichever career path they choose to pursue. 


Travel Grants 

As HEATER Fellows, students have access to a pool of travel funding to help cover costs of thermoelectrics-related travel outside the area of their home institution. Travel grants can be used to cover expenses relating to attending workshops, academic conferences, visiting collaborator's laboratories and research at world-class facilities. 

Fellows are encouraged to apply for travel grants to attend the International Thermoelectric Conference 2014 in Nashville, TN. Registration for the conference is now open, and participants should register before June 15, 2014. 

Please contact the Program Coordinator for an application form.

Call for Applications: HEATER Graduate Fellowships, Fall 2014


We welcome applications for the next HEATER Graduate Fellowships. The fellowship provides a $13,000 per year stipend to qualified graduate students completing a Thermoelectrics-focused research project.

The unique structure of the HEATER Program allows students to take part in three complementary training areas: an industrial placement, in which students spend 20% of their time, the HEATER Summer School and Seminar Series, and professional skills training courses. The fellowship is open to students at McMaster University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto. 

Please visit our website to download the application package. If you have any questions about the fellowship, please contact the HEATER Program Coordinator.


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