The best thermoelectric

G. D. Mahan, J. O. Sofo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1303 Scopus citations


What electronic structure provides the largest figure of merit for thermoelectric materials? To answer that question, we write the electrical conductivity, thermopower, and thermal conductivity as integrals of a single function, the transport distribution. Then we derive the mathematical function for the transport distribution, which gives the largest figure of merit. A delta-shaped transport distribution is found to maximize the thermoelectric properties. This result indicates that a narrow distribution of the energy of the electrons participating in the transport process is needed for maximum thermoelectric efficiency. Some possible realizations of this idea are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7436-7439
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Jul 23 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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