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Postgraduate research project

Flexible hybrid thermoelectric materials for wearable energy harvesting

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

The proposed project is aimed at developing a new generation of micro thermoelectric (TE) generators capable of being integrated into textiles for powering wearable electronic systems. Electronic textiles (e-textiles or smart fabrics) is an exciting new platform technology for wearables.

Despite the explosive growth of wearable technology, the majority of wearable and e-textile devices are still powered by rigid batteries that require frequent recharging and replacement. A possible solution for the realization of self-powered wearable devices is the generation of power from body heat using flexible, textile-based thermoelectric (TE) generators.

TE devices have the ability to convert heat directly into useful electricity based on the Seebeck effect. TE devices have many advantages such as solid-state operation with no moving parts, zero-emission, silent operation, vast scalability and high reliability with no maintenance and long operating lifetimes. Despite these merits there are a number of drawbacks of existing TE generators which include low efficiency, large size, brittleness and inflexibility as they are fabricated onto rigid substrates. Researchers have demonstrated harvesting sufficient energy from body heat to power a wireless ECG system using such modules but the lack of flexibility means it is not a practical solution.

To overcome these limitations, the aim of the current project is to produce a micro thermoelectric generator on textiles or other flexible substrates and employ low-cost, room temperature scalable electrodeposition approaches coupled with screen printing of thermoelectric inks. The flexible nature of these devices will enable a practical solution to the application in e-textiles and clothing for applications in defence, healthcare and sports.

You will be based in the School of Electronics and Computer Science which is ranked 1st in the UK for Electrical and Electronic Engineering (Guardian University Guide 2022). You will work in the Chemistry Department to develop the electroplated nanowires which will be subsequently blended into a polymer composite for screen printing in the Printed Electronics and Materials Lab in ECS.

You will be supervised by world-leading researchers in their field and join an exceptional and vibrant team of postdoctoral researchers and other PhD students. We will also support the development of your future career and give you opportunities to expand your experience and knowledge beyond the topic of the PhD project.