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Saeidi-Javash, M., Wang, K., Zeng, M., Luo, T., Dowling, A.W. and Zhang, Y., 2022. Machine learning-assisted ultrafast flash sintering of high-performance and flexible silver–selenide thermoelectric devices. Energy & Environmental Science, 15(12), pp.5093-5104. [link]
Abstract: Flexible thermoelectric generators (TEGs) have shown immense potential for serving as a power source for wearable electronics and the Internet of Things. A key challenge preventing large-scale application of TEGs lies in the lack of a high-throughput processing method, which can sinter thermoelectric (TE) materials rapidly while maintaining their high thermoelectric properties. Herein, we integrate high-throughput experimentation and Bayesian optimization (BO) to accelerate the discovery of the optimum sintering conditions of silver–selenide TE films using an ultrafast intense pulsed light (flash) sintering technique. Due to the nature of the high-dimensional optimization problem of flash sintering processes, a Gaussian process regression (GPR) machine learning model is established to rapidly recommend the optimum flash sintering variables based on Bayesian expected improvement. For the first time, an ultrahigh-power factor flexible TE film (a power factor of 2205 μW m−1 K−2 with a zT of 1.1 at 300 K) is demonstrated with a sintering time less than 1.0 second, which is several orders of magnitude shorter than that of conventional thermal sintering techniques. The films also show excellent flexibility with 92% retention of the power factor (PF) after 103 bending cycles with a 5 mm bending radius. In addition, a wearable thermoelectric generator based on the flash-sintered films generates a very competitive power density of 0.5 mW cm−2 at a temperature difference of 10 K. This work not only shows the tremendous potential of high-performance and flexible silver–selenide TEGs but also demonstrates a machine learning-assisted flash sintering strategy that could be used for ultrafast, high-throughput and scalable processing of functional materials for a broad range of energy and electronic applications.