Advanced thermopower wave in novel ZnO nanostructures/fuel composite

Kang Yeol Lee, Hayoung Hwang, Wonjoon Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Thermopower wave is a new concept of energy conversion from chemical to thermal to electrical energy, produced from the chemical reaction in well-designed hybrid structures between nanomaterials and combustible fuels. The enhancement and optimization of energy generation is essential to make it useful for future applications. In this study, we demonstrate that simple solution-based synthesized zinc oxide (ZnO) nanostructures, such as nanorods and nanoparticles are capable of generating high output voltage from thermopower waves. In particular, an astonishing improvement in the output voltage (up to 3 V; average 2.3 V) was achieved in a ZnO nanorods-based composite film with a solid fuel (collodion, 5% nitrocellulose), which generated an exothermic chemical reaction. Detailed analyses of thermopower waves in ZnO nanorods- and cube-like nanoparticles-based hybrid composites have been reported in which nanostructures, output voltage profile, wave propagation velocities, and surface temperature have been characterized. The average combustion velocities for a ZnO nanorods/fuel and a ZnO cube-like nanoparticles/fuel composites were 40.3 and 30.0 mm/s, while the average output voltages for these composites were 2.3 and 1.73 V. The high output voltage was attributed to the amplified temperature in intermixed composite of ZnO nanostructures and fuel due to the confined diffusive heat transfer in nanostructures. Moreover, the extended interfacial areas between ZnO nanorods and fuel induced large amplification in the dynamic change of the chemical potential, and it resulted in the enhanced output voltage. The differences of reaction velocity and the output voltage between ZnO nanorods- and ZnO cube-like nanoparticles-based composites were attributed to variations in electron mobility and grain boundary, as well as thermal conductivities of ZnO nanorods and particles. Understanding this astonishing increase and the variation of the output voltage and reaction velocity, precise ZnO nanostructures, will help in formulating specific strategies for obtaining enhanced energy generation from thermopower waves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15575-15582
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sept 10

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Chemical Society.


  • combustion
  • energy conversion
  • energy generation
  • exothermic chemical reaction
  • thermopower wave
  • zinc oxide (ZnO) nanostructures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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