Research Article

Giant thermopower of ionic gelatin near room temperature

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Science  30 Apr 2020:
eaaz5045
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz5045

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Abstract

Harvesting heat from the environment into electricity has the potential to power Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensors, freeing them from cables or batteries especially for use as wearable devices. We demonstrate a giant positive thermopower of 17.0 mV K−1 in a flexible, quasi-solid state, ionic thermoelectric material using synergistic thermodiffusion and thermogalvanic effects. The ionic thermoelectric material is a gelatin matrix modulated with ions providers (KCl, NaCl, and KNO3) for thermodiffusion effect and redox couple (Fe(CN)64-/Fe(CN)63-) for thermogalvanic effect. A proof-of-concept wearable device consisting of 25 unipolar elements generated over 2 V and a peak power of 5 μW using body heat. This ionic gelatin shows promises for environmental heat-to-electric energy conversion utilizing ions as energy carriers.

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