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NIMS Award to a world-class researcher who did innovative research and accomplished excellent results in Materials Science

NIMS Award 2020 Winners

This year, NIMS will present the honor to outstanding research achievements in the field of Materials for Thermal Energy Conversion and Thermal Management which have made a profound influence on the society through commercialization and innovation of thermoelectric devices playing essential roles in the core technology to support the IoT Society.

Thermoelectric Energy Conversion

Pioneer work on bismuth telluride thermoelectric material and its application for large-capacity optical communication systems using the Peltier cooling phenomenon

Prof. Hiroshi Julian Goldsmid

(Emeritus Professor, The University of New South Wales)

Inorganic Materials Science

Development of environmental-friendly inorganic thermoelectric materials

Prof. Kunihito Koumoto

(Emeritus Professor, Nagoya University
Senior Researcher, Nagoya Industrial Science Research Institute
Distinguished Adjunct Professor, King Abdulaziz University)

Research Summary and Impact on the Academic and Industrial Sectors

Prof. Hiroshi Julian Goldsmid

[Research summary]

Prof. H. J. Goldsmid identified bismuth telluride as a practical material for Peltier cooling for the first time in the world in 1954. Bismuth telluride is still the preferred thermoelectric material for application to Peltier devices to make progress in large-capacity long-haul optical communication worldwide. In addition, he validated the existence of a bipolar component in thermal conductivity in 1958. His observation of the phonon-drag phenomenon and experiments with the thermomagnetic effect in 1959 were one of the first trials in the world. He has achieved much excellent academic performance on boundary scattering of phonons, thermal conduction and thermoelectric energy conversion to contribute to the foundation and advancement of thermoelectric physics and technologies.

[Impact on the academic and industrial sectors]

Bismuth telluride is still the preferred thermoelectric material with high energy conversion efficiency near room temperature. The identification by Prof. H. J. Goldsmid was a good opportunity to promote drastic improvement of thermoelectric cooling technologies. As mentioned above, he has many research achievements on experimental physics focusing on phonon conduction, thermal conduction and thermoelectric phenomena. These excellent achievements laid the foundation for the science and technology of thermoelectric energy conversion and substantially contributed to technological progress and development of devices. Also his research achievements significantly contributed to the formulation of the basic grounds for IoT society and therefore Society 5.0 through the actualization of large capacity which is more than three orders of magnitude larger than conventional ones and long-haul transmission of optical communication.

Prof. Kunihito Koumoto

[Research summary]

Led the world firstly by focusing on developing high-performance thermoelectric materials based on environmental-friendly materials such as oxides and sulfides. He then proposed the idea that high-performance thermoelectrics can be realized by creating periodic structures based on different nanoblocks, thereby reducing thermal conductivity while preserving electrical conductivity. Such principles were applied to SrTiO3, which typically had low thermoelectric performance, to achieve a room temperature ZT=2.4. This principle was further applied to an inorganic/organic superlattice (TiS2/Hexylamine) to achieve ZT=0.32 at room temperature to 100oC. ZT=0.32 is equal to the best in the world as a flexible thermoelectric device.

[Impact on the academic and industrial sectors]

In contrast to conventional thermoelectric materials, which generally contain toxic and rare elements, he found the importance of and potential for high performance of environmental-friendly materials and led the paradigm shift in the development of thermoelectric materials. Previously only low-performance organic materials had been studied as flexible thermoelectric materials. However, he achieved innovative research results by fabricating hybrid superlattice structures by intercalating organic materials into the van der Waals gap of layered sulfides, thereby developing flexible high-performance inorganic/organic hybrid thermoelectric materials. Furthermore, by developing such high-performance nanostructured thermoelectric materials, he accelerated applicative research toward IoT energy harvesting and contributed largely to the development of environmental-friendly thermoelectric materials expected to be used by industry.

NIMS Award Ceremony and Lectures 2020 Online
November 27th, 2020