Since Joule heating in electronics can significantly impact its performance and stability, electronics that have been used for communication applications have a stringent requirement on temperature. Thermoelectric technology enables rapid heating and cooling via tuning the direction and magnitude of the electric current - this is the only technology that can realize precise temperature control on electronics. However, the application of traditional thermoelectric cooling devices is limited by the low performance of commercial Bi(2)Te(3)-based alloys. As a result, the discovery of promising thermoelectric cooling materials is of great significance for promoting the widespread application of thermoelectric cooling technology.
To explore promising candidates that differ from conventional semiconducting materials, Jun Mao mainly focuses on semimetals, a type of material that has long been considered unpromising due to its low Seebeck coefficient. However, he discovered that not all the semimetals will have intrinsically low Seebeck coefficient. As a result, based on the strategy of manipulating the asymmetry of the band structure, Jun Mao has successfully identified the Mg(3)Bi(2)-based semimetals with very high Seebeck coefficient and outstanding thermoelectric performance. In fact, this is the first time in the past seven decades that a new thermoelectric cooling material, which is comparable to the commercial n-type Bi(2)Te(3)-based alloys, has been identified.
Jun Mao received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Houston in 2018, and then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Texas Center for Superconductivity. He joined the Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen) in 2021 as a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He plans to develop advanced Mg(3)Bi(2)-based thermoelectric coolers in future studies.