Thermoelectric (TE) materials and devices are crucial for renewable thermal-to-electrical energy conversion applications. The optimization of TE performance can be achieved by manipulating four fundamental degrees of freedom: charge, lattice, spin and orbital. Historically, most strategies to improve TE performance focus on phonon and electron charge transport properties. However, in the past 15 years, the field of spin caloritronics, which explores the interplay among heat, charge and spin, has emerged. The inclusion of spins has introduced conceptually innovative mechanisms and versatile functionalities for solid-state thermal-to-electrical energy conversion. Here, we review the recent theoretical and experimental progress in the field of spin caloritronics. We discuss the strategic role of spin-related mechanisms in improving charge-based TE performance and the recent developments in the novel magneto-TE and thermospin effects as well as their potential applications. This Review offers a perspective for understanding the role of spin in TE, designing new high-efficiency TE materials and developing new TE technology beyond the conventional framework.
The intercoupled transport of charge, heat and spins has resulted in an emerging field known as spin caloritronics, which combines the spintronics and thermoelectrics (TEs). The additional spin degrees of freedom offer conceptually innovative mechanisms and functionalities for solid-state thermal-to-electrical energy conversion.
Various spin-related effects offer new mechanisms for optimizing the charge-based TE performance beyond the well-known S–σ anticorrelation limit, such as Rashba spin-split effect, Kondo effect, spin entropy, spin fluctuation, magnon-drag effect and magnetic nanocomposite effect.
Spin-dependent magneto-TE effects, such as longitudinal magneto-Seebeck–Peltier effect and transverse Nernst–Ettingshausen effect, provide a new TE conversion technology that can be controlled by spin/magnetism.
The discovery of various heat–spin–charge interconversion effects has led to the development of versatile TE converters with unique driven principles, geometric symmetries and novel functionalities that are not found in conventional TEs. The thermospin effects include the spin Seebeck–Peltier effect and spin-dependent Seebeck–Peltier effect.
Spin caloritronics provides new TE functionalities and application prospects, such as transverse TE generation, thermal energy harvesting and cooling, heat flux sensing and spin sources for spintronics.
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This work was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) through ARC Discovery projects (DP230102221, X.L.W. and DP210101436, C.Z.), ARC Professorial Future Fellowship Project (FT130100778, X.L.W.), ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET, CE170100039), Basic Science Centre Project of NSFC (No. 51788104) and a Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) Grant (LE120100069, X.L.W.).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Yang, G., Sang, L., Zhang, C. et al. The role of spin in thermoelectricity. Nat Rev Phys 5, 466–482 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42254-023-00604-0