Aerosol Jet Printing and Photonic Sintering of Thermoelectric Devices

Tech ID: 19-051

Inventors: Yanliang Zhang, Mortaza Saeidi-Javash

Date Added: June 22, 2020


A transformative 3D conformal aerosol jet printing and rapid photonic sintering process to print and sinter nanoparticle inks for thermoelectric devices.

Technology Summary

19 051 Graphic

The flexible thermoelectric (TE) devices have broad applications in energy harvesting and cooling. Multiple processes have been used to create flexible TE films like vacuum filtration, spin/spray coating, and ink-based printing. However, due to the reduced density of printed films and a restricted sintering temperature, it is challenging to achieve competitive TE properties and mechanical flexibility in printed films. Most high-performance TE materials require a sintering temperature above 400°C, which limits the substrate options for conventional thermal sintering methods. Instead, utilizing intense pulsed light (IPL) in rapid and versatile photonic sintering prevents overheating and damage to the underlying substrate because of its ability to confine energy delivery in the printed film, which paved the way for a highly efficient manufacturing process to fabricate high-performance, low-cost and flexible thermoelectric device at the University of Notre Dame.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a transformative 3D conformal aerosol jet printing method to create flexible TE films. Coupled with rapid IPL photonic sintering, this process prints and sinters semiconductor-based nanoparticle inks on both 2D and 3D substrates. Within seconds, the conductivity of the films improved markedly from non-conductive to 2.7x104 S/m which results in an impressively high thermoelectric power factor of 730 μW m-1K-2 at room temperature. Unlike competing technologies, TE devices are able to directly convert thermal energy into electricity, or use electricity for solid-state cooling. Advantages of TE devices include high reliability, noise-free and vibration-free operation, scalability, and compactness. This highly scalable and low-cost manufacturing process effectively converts high-efficiency thermoelectric nanocrystals into high-performance devices that can be used as flexible/wearable power sources for powering electronics and sensors with a broad range of practical and commercial applications.

Market Advantages

  • Highly competitive thermoelectric performance
  • Highly flexible film based thermoelectric devices
  • Highly scalable and low-cost manufacturing process


  • Power wearable devices and sensors by wearable TE devices that convert body heat into electricity
  • Power wide range of sensors in IoT, industry, automobile, airplanes, buildings, etc.
  • Recover waste heat and improve energy efficiency
  • Solid-state cooling devices for thermal management and localized cooling in automobile, building space, etc.

Technology Readiness Level

TRL 3 - Experimental Proof of Concept

Intellectual Property Status

Patent Pending


3D Conformal Printing and Photonic Sintering of High-Performance Flexible Thermoelectric Films Using 2D Nanoplates. doi:10.1002/adfm.201901930

3D Printing of Solution-Processable 2D Nanoplates and 1D Nanorods for Flexible Thermoelectrics with Ultrahigh Power Factor at Low-Medium Temperatures. doi:10.1002/advs.201901788


Richard Cox