Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting

This technology is available for licensing, commercialization, and/or development partnership.

For technical details, please contact Adam Curry (adam.curry@ncsu.edu).

Harvesting heat from the human body is a promising approach to realizing self-powered wearables that run continuously without the need to charge or replace the batteries.  Thermoelectric generators (TEG) placed on the body can convert the small temperature difference between the body and the ambient to electricity. TEGs can also provide electricity in industrial settings and other situations where excess thermal energy is available.

flexible thermoelectric energy generator
New and improved flexible thermoelectric energy generator with insulating materials between legs and conductive material on top and bottom.

ASSIST’s flexible TEGs conform to, and maintain contact with, curved surfaces even during bending or stretching, overcoming an important limitation of rigid TEGs.  

ASSIST has developed a flexible thermoelectric generator technology by encasing the semiconductor elements in a silicone elastomer. In these devices, low-resistivity, stretchable, self-healing liquid metal interconnects are used to connect the elements electrically in series. The flexible package incorporates novel elastomers that are developed to have lower (or higher) thermal conductivities to optimize the thermal management of the flexible package. ASSIST flexible thermoelectric generators to provide the highest power levels reported to date. Exact harvested power levels depend on TEG size, temperatures, and air movement.

Manufacturing processes that are compatible with roll-to-roll and spray deposition processes have been developed. The flexible TEG construction and manufacturing methods are protected by patent US10431726B2.

Learn more about the researchers involved with this project: