Green Biocomposites for Thermoelectric Wearable Applications

Pietro Cataldi, Marco Cassinelli, José A. Heredia-Guerrero, Susana Guzman-Puyol, Sara Naderizadeh, Athanassia Athanassiou, Mario Caironi

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The materials commonly used to fabricate thermoelectric devices are tellurium, lead, and germanium. These materials ensure the best thermoelectric performance, but exhibit drawbacks in terms of availability, sustainability, cost, and manufacturing complexity. Moreover, they do not guarantee a safe and cheap implementation in wearable thermoelectric applications. Here, p-Type and n-type flexible thermoelectric textiles are produced with sustainable and low-cost materials through green and scalable processes. Cotton is functionalized with inks made with biopolyester and carbon nanomaterials. Depending on the nanofiller, i.e., graphene nanoplatelets, carbon nanotubes, or carbon nanofibers, positive or negative Seebeck coefficient values are obtained, resulting in a remarkable electrical conductivity value of 55 S cm−1 using carbon nanotubes. The best bending and washing stability are registered for the carbon nanofiber-based biocomposites, which increase their electrical resistance by 5 times after repeated bending cycles and only by 30% after washing. Finally, in-plane flexible thermoelectric generators coupling the best p- and n-type materials are fabricated and analysed, resulting in an output voltage of ≈1.65 mV and a maximum output power of ≈1.0 nW by connecting only 2 p/n thermocouples at a temperature difference of 70 °C.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1907301
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number3
Early online date29 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • carbon nanofibers
  • carbon nanotubes
  • graphene nanoplatelets
  • n-type thermoelectric materials
  • organic thermoelectrics
  • sustainable thermoelectrics


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