Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Thermoelectric properties and performance of flexible reduced graphene oxide films up to 3,000 K


The development of ultrahigh-temperature thermoelectric materials could enable thermoelectric topping of combustion power cycles as well as extending the range of direct thermoelectric power generation in concentrated solar power. However, thermoelectric operation temperatures have been restricted to under 1,500 K due to the lack of suitable materials. Here, we demonstrate a thermoelectric conversion material based on high-temperature reduced graphene oxide nanosheets that can perform reliably up to 3,000 K. After a reduction treatment at 3,300 K, the nanosheet film exhibits an increased conductivity to ~4,000 S cm−1 at 3,000 K and a high power factor S2σ = 54.5 µW cm−1 K−2. We report measurements characterizing the film’s thermoelectric properties up to 3,000 K. The reduced graphene oxide film also exhibits a high broadband radiation absorbance and can act as both a radiative receiver and a thermoelectric generator. The printable, lightweight and flexible film is attractive for system integration and scalable manufacturing.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: High-temperature operation of TE RGO.
Fig. 2: High-temperature operation capabilities of HT-RGO films.
Fig. 3: TE voltage by radiative heating.
Fig. 4: Seebeck coefficient measurement and thermal conductivity measurement.
Fig. 5: Performance of the 3,300 K RGO film as a TE generator.


  1. 1.

    Heremans, J. P., Dresselhaus, M. S., Bell, L. E. & Morelli, D. T. When thermoelectrics reached the nanoscale. Nat. Nanotechnol. 8, 471–473 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Snyder, G. J. & Toberer, E. S. Complex thermoelectric materials. Nat. Mater. 7, 105–114 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Zhao, L.-D., Dravid, V. P. & Kanatzidis, M. G. The panoscopic approach to high performance thermoelectrics. Energy Env. Sci. 7, 251–268 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Chung, D.-Y. et al. CsBi4Te6: A high-performance thermoelectric material for low-temperature applications. Science 287, 1024–1027 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Poudel, B. et al. High-thermoelectric performance of nanostructured bismuth antimony telluride bulk alloys. Science 320, 634–638 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Hsu, K. F. et al. Cubic AgPbmSbTe2+m: bulk thermoelectric materials with high figure of merit. Science 303, 818–821 (2004).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Harman, T. C., Taylor, P. J., Walsh, M. P. & LaForge, B. E. Quantum dot superlattice thermoelectric materials and devices. Science 297, 2229–2232 (2002).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Heremans, J. P. et al. Enhancement of thermoelectric efficiency in PbTe by distortion of the electronic density of states. Science 321, 554–557 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Kauzlarich, S. M., Brown, S. R. & Snyder, G. J. Zintl phases for thermoelectric devices. Dalton Trans. 21, 2099–2107 (2007).

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Rowe, D. Thermoelectric waste heat recovery as a renewable energy source. Int. J. Innov. Energy Syst. Power 1, 13–23 (2006).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Bux, S. K. et al. Nanostructured bulk silicon as an effective thermoelectric material. Adv. Funct. Mater. 19, 2445–2452 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Zhu, G. H. et al. Increased phonon scattering by nanograins and point defects in nanostructured silicon with a low concentration of germanium. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 196803 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Joshi, G. et al. Enhanced thermoelectric figure-of-merit in nanostructured p-type silicon germanium bulk alloys. Nano Lett. 8, 4670–4674 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Hochbaum, A. I. et al. Enhanced thermoelectric performance of rough silicon nanowires. Nature 451, 163–167 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Minnich, A. J., Dresselhaus, M. S., Ren, Z. F. & Chen, G. Bulk nanostructured thermoelectric materials: current research and future prospects. Energy Environ. Sci. 2, 466–479 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Hicks, L. D. & Dresselhaus, M. S. Thermoelectric figure of merit of a one-dimensional conductor. Phys. Rev. B 47, 16631–16634 (1993).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Kim, J. Y. & Grossman, J. C. High-efficiency thermoelectrics with functionalized graphene. Nano Lett. 15, 2830–2835 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Xiao, N. et al. Enhanced thermopower of graphene films with oxygen plasma treatment. ACS Nano 5, 2749–2755 (2011).

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Gao, J. et al. Enhanced power factor in flexible reduced graphene oxide/nanowires hybrid films for thermoelectrics. RSC Adv. 6, 31580–31587 (2016).

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Choi, J. et al. Controlled oxidation level of reduced graphene oxides and its effect on thermoelectric properties. Macromol. Res. 22, 1104–1108 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Wang, W. et al. An efficient thermoelectric material: preparation of reduced graphene oxide/polyaniline hybrid composites by cryogenic grinding. RSC Adv. 5, 8988–8995 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Beekman, M., Morelli, D. T. & Nolas, G. S. Better thermoelectrics through glass-like crystals. Nat. Mater. 14, 1182–1185 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Yazawa, K. et al. Thermoelectric topping cycles for power plants to eliminate cooling water consumption. Energy Convers. Manag. 84, 244–252 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Adiabatic Flame Temperatures (The Engineering ToolBox, accessed 4 July 2017);

  25. 25.

    Marcano, D. C. et al. Improved synthesis of graphene oxide. ACS Nano 4, 4806–4814 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Bao, W. et al. Flexible, high temperature, planar lighting with large scale printable nanocarbon paper. Adv. Mater. 28, 4684–4691 (2016).

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Eda, G., Fanchini, G. & Chhowalla, M. Large-area ultrathin films of reduced graphene oxide as a transparent and flexible electronic material. Nat. Nanotechnol. 3, 270–274 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Kobayashi, T., Kimura, N., Chi, J., Hirata, S. & Hobara, D. Channel-length-dependent field-effect mobility and carrier concentration of reduced graphene oxide thin-film transistors. Small 6, 1210–1215 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Negishi, R. et al. Synthesis of very narrow multilayer graphene nanoribbon with turbostratic stacking. Appl. Phys. Lett. 110, 201901 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Nair, R. R. et al. Fine structure constant defines visual transparency of graphene. Science 320, 1308–1308 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Cusack, N. & Kendall, P. The absolute scale of thermoelectric power at high temperature. Proc. Phys. Soc. 72, 898–907 (1958).

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Bahk, J.-H., Bian, Z. & Shakouri, A. Electron energy filtering by a nonplanar potential to enhance the thermoelectric power factor in bulk materials. Phys. Rev. B 87, 75204 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Zhang, Y. et al. Hot carrier filtering in solution processed heterostructures: a paradigm for improving thermoelectric efficiency. Adv. Mater. 26, 2755–2761 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Neophytou, N. & Kosina, H. Optimizing thermoelectric power factor by means of a potential barrier. J. Appl. Phys. 114, 44315 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Nonoguchi, Y. et al. Systematic conversion of single walled carbon nanotubes into n-type thermoelectric materials by molecular dopants. Sci. Rep. 3, 3344 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Fukumaru, T., Fujigaya, T. & Nakashima, N. Development of n-type cobaltocene-encapsulated carbon nanotubes with remarkable thermoelectric property. Sci. Rep. 5, 7951 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Ramirez, C., Leborán, V., Rivadulla, F., Miranzo, P. & Osendi, M. I. Thermopower and Hall effect in silicon nitride composites containing thermally reduced graphene and pure graphene nanosheets. Ceram. Int. 42, 11341–11347 (2016).

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Avery, A. D. et al. Tailored semiconducting carbon nanotube networks with enhanced thermoelectric properties. Nat. Energy 1, 16033 (2016).

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Crispin, X. Thermoelectrics: Carbon nanotubes get high. Nat. Energy 1, 16037 (2016).

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Zuev, Y. M., Chang, W. & Kim, P. Thermoelectric and magnetothermoelectric transport measurements of graphene. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 096807 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Wei, P., Bao, W., Pu, Y., Lau, C. N. & Shi, J. Anomalous thermoelectric transport of Dirac particles in graphene. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 166808 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Ashcroft, N. W. & Mermin, N. D. Solid State Physics (Harcourt College Publisher, San Diego, 1976).

  43. 43.

    Ghahari, F. et al. Enhanced thermoelectric power in graphene: violation of the Mott relation by inelastic scattering. Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 136802 (2016).

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Chen, J.-H. et al. Charged-impurity scattering in graphene. Nat. Phys. 4, 377–381 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Chen, J.-H., Cullen, W. G., Jang, C., Fuhrer, M. S. & Williams, E. D. Defect scattering in graphene. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 236805 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Li, F., Cai, K., Shen, S. & Chen, S. Preparation and thermoelectric properties of reduced graphene oxide/PEDOT:PSS composite films. Synth. Met. 197, 58–61 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

Download references


We acknowledge the Dean’s support from the University of Maryland, which was used to set up our experimental equipment. The constructive discussions with J. P. Heremans as well as use of the probe station in A. Shakouri’s laboratory to measure room-temperature thermal conductivity were greatly appreciated. A.D.P. acknowledges the support provided by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. S.D.L. acknowledges the support by the Department of Defense (DoD) through the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Program. M.S.F. is supported by an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship.

Authors contributions

T.L., D.H.D. and L.H. conceived the idea. T.L., Y.Y., Y.C., S.D.L., Y.L., J.D. and Y.W. contributed to material preparation and characterization. A.D.P., Y.Z., C.D., A.M., T.L. and B.Y. contributed to the characterization and analysis of thermal properties. T.L., Y.W., M.S.F. and D.H.D. contributed to the characterization and analysis of electrical properties. All authors contributed to writing.

Author information



Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Dennis H. Drew or Liangbing Hu.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Discussion 1–6 and Supplementary Figure 1–13

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, T., Pickel, A.D., Yao, Y. et al. Thermoelectric properties and performance of flexible reduced graphene oxide films up to 3,000 K. Nat Energy 3, 148–156 (2018).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing