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Article summary:

1. Waste heat can be found in virtually all engines and machines, making thermoelectrics a unique solution for harvesting electricity from waste heat.

2. High-performance thermoelectric devices require not only identifying high-performance materials but also optimizing various device-level metrics such as thermal and electrical contact resistance, fill factors, electrical and thermal impedance matching, and insulation.

3. The constant property model (CPM) is widely used to estimate efficiency due to its simplicity, but it becomes inaccurate for many materials which have temperature-dependent properties such as Seebeck coefficient, electrical conductivity, and thermal conductivity. Therefore, a holistic consideration of materials and design is necessary to achieve high performance beyond average zT.

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