The need for efficient energy utilization is driving research into ways to harvest ubiquitous waste heat. Here, we explore pyroelectric energy conversion from low-grade thermal sources that exploits strong field- and temperature-induced polarization susceptibilities in the relaxor ferroelectric 0.68Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3–0.32PbTiO3. Electric-field-driven enhancement of the pyroelectric response (as large as −550 μC m−2 K−1) and suppression of the dielectric response (by 72%) yield substantial figures of merit for pyroelectric energy conversion. Field- and temperature-dependent pyroelectric measurements highlight the role of polarization rotation and field-induced polarization in mediating these effects. Solid-state, thin-film devices that convert low-grade heat into electrical energy are demonstrated using pyroelectric Ericsson cycles, and optimized to yield maximum energy density, power density and efficiency of 1.06 J cm−3, 526 W cm−3 and 19% of Carnot, respectively; the highest values reported to date and equivalent to the performance of a thermoelectric with an effective ZT ≈ 1.16 for a temperature change of 10 K. Our findings suggest that pyroelectric devices may be competitive with thermoelectric devices for low-grade thermal harvesting.
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S.P. acknowledges support from the Army Research Office under grant W911NF-14-1-0104. J.W. acknowledges support from a UC Berkeley Graduate Fellowship. J.K. acknowledges support from the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences through grant no. DE-SC-0012375 for development of the relaxor materials. R.G. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation under grant OISE-1545907. A.D. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation under grant DMR-1708615. L.W.M. acknowledges support of the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division under contract no. DE-AC02-05-CH11231: Materials Project programme KC23MP for development of advanced functional materials.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Pandya, S., Wilbur, J., Kim, J. et al. Pyroelectric energy conversion with large energy and power density in relaxor ferroelectric thin films. Nature Mater 17, 432–438 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-018-0059-8
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