150 000 Euros in ERC funding to commercialise thermoelectric materials
Skein of cotton thread that has been coated with a thin thermoelectric layer using an ALD/MLD process. Photograph Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University.
The European Research Council has awarded Aalto University’s Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Maarit Karppinen, 150 000 Euros Proof of Concept (PoC) funding to commercialise the results of research into thermoelectric materials.
Professor Karppinen’s research group develops new functional hybrid materials by combining thin layers of inorganic and organic materials. The group produces the materials using a combined atomic/molecular layer deposition process (ALD/MLD) which can be used to grow thin film materials for different surfaces and nanostructures.
New thermoelectric materials are needed because the semi-conductor materials currently used to utilise waste heat are made from extremely rare elements and are consequently expensive. The aim is also to use the new production methods to improve the flexibility and usability of the materials in new applications.
In the future, flexible thermoelectric thin films could be used in wearable electronics using the temperature difference between the wearer’s body and the air as a power source for electronic devices.
With the ERC’s PoC funding, the research group will be able to carry out a market analysis and explore opportunities for commercialising the technology. Commercialisation will be helped by the fact that ALD thin film technology is already widely used in industry and there is a wide range of uses for the new applications.
Professor Maarit Karppinen leads the Department of Chemistry’s Research Group of Inorganic Chemistry in the School of Chemical Technology. The PoC funding was awarded to the “Novel Thermoelectric Energy Solutions based on Flexible Thin-Film Materials (TES-FlexThin)” project.
The European Research Council, ERC supports ground-breaking top level research. Proof of Concept (PoC) funding for studying the innovation potential and commercialisation of research, can be applied for by researchers who have already been awarded an ERC grant. In 2013, Professor Maarit Karppinen was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant of 2.4 million Euros for research into hybrid materials. Advanced Grants are awarded to established research leaders.
From frontier research to innovation ERC funds 135 Proof of Concept grants (erc.europa.eu, pdf)