Thermoelectric Process Optimization

The development in clean energy and related technologies are the key concerns for creating a sustainable energy resources future. There are many forms of clean energy resources; however, the efficiency, operation difficulties, and the cost are limiting factors adopting these resources. One of the potentials in the available resources is the thermoelectric energy conversion systems. This requires the deep understanding of the physical aspects of the thermoelectric effects to establish the fundamentals of the high efficiency processing and development of new materials in this regard. Consequently, investigation into the thermoelectric effects and process formulations in relation to new material developments becomes necessary.

The recent developments in scientific research lead to integrate the thermal sources with nanoscaled materials to generate thermoelectric elements. Since the scale of the energy transport is comparable to the atomic spacing within the material, energy transport in such systems generates non-equilibrium energy states between the lattice site and the electrons. This results in thermal separation of electron and lattice sub-systems and the thermal communication of these sub-systems results in nonequilibrium energy transfer from the electron sub-system to the lattice sub-system. Moreover, electrons absorb energy from the external sources in the form of heat and electromagnetic waves to increase their excess energy in the surface region. This situation enhances electron temperature and triggers the electron motion from high temperature region to low temperature region through which the Seebeck current is generated. However, surface plasmons (surface plasmon polaritons), which are electromagnetic waves propagating parallel along a metal/dielectric interface; contribute to the enhancement of the thermoelectric current. 

Our strength relies on the group members, who have established research credentials in the area of thermal sciences, process optimization, and dynamics of systems. The group members have potential to conduct the-state-of-the-art research in the area of thermoelectric power generation. In addition, integration of graduate students into the group will enhance the research potential and the strength of the group. The lab and computational facilities available at ME Departmentwill serve the base for the research achievements.

The importance of the research is that the thermoelectric devices are the potential candidate for efficient energy producing devices and can be used affectively in cooling and heating applications in electronics. However, further research into the improvement of efficiency and possible domestic applications of such devices is necessary. 

The research area, which is proposed by the group, has significant importance to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It should be noted that thermoelectric conversion from the solar heating is one of the potential sources of clean energy generation while meeting the requirements of small remote communities in the Kingdom, since the average annual solar radiation falling on the Arabian Peninsula is about 2200 kWh(th)/m2, which is significantly higher than the world average. Consequently, research into fundamentals of thermoelectric conversion becomes necessary for sustainable and viable applications.

Group Members


Dr. Bekir Sami Yilbas (Group Coordinator)


Dr. Ahmet Sahin (ME)


Dr. S.Z. Shuja (ME)


Dr. Tahir Ayar (SE)


Dr. Mehmet Sunar (ME)


Dr. H. Al-Qahtani (ME)


For more information, contact Dr. Bekir Sami Yilbas at