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Heremans’ new paper selected as cover article for Nature Reviews Materials journal

Professor and Ohio Eminent Scholar Joseph P. HeremansProfessor and Ohio Eminent Scholar Joseph P. HeremansProfessor and Ohio Eminent Scholar Joseph P. Heremans' latest paper, “Tetradymites as Thermoelectrics and Topological Insulators,” was selected as the cover article for the Oct. 2017 edition (Volume 2, Issue 10) of the Nature Reviews Materials journal.

His paper provides a fundamental understanding of the electronic properties of tetradymite cooling materials. Think of a refrigerator: You plug the electrical cord into an outlet, and the refrigerator will begin to cool the foods housed inside.

Tetradymites are similar, but they are solids and can be made quite small – two by two millimeters, for example – instead of the hulking size of a refrigerator.

“They have no moving parts, don’t wear out, require no maintenance and work forever,” said Heremans. “[This] has obvious advantages over traditional compressor cooling that is used in refrigerators.”

His paper aims to educate young researchers about the efficiency of tetradymites. These same materials can also be used as “topological insulators”, a new form of matter in which electrons do not follow the same rules as they do in most conventional semiconductors that are used in electronics.

“In particular, the energies and velocities of the electrons in these solids are not only dictated by the electrical potentials of the atoms,” explained Heremans, who directs The Ohio State University’s Thermal Materials Laboratory. “They are also dictated by relativistic effects, much like electrons that barrel down the universe at the speed of light.”

“Tetradymites as Thermoelectrics and Topological Insulators” shows how these relativistic effects, which result in a correction of the atomic energy levels, contribute to the thermoelectric efficiency. Heremans hopes that his paper will spur the development of better and more efficient materials to cool electronics, batteries and other small devices.

This is the first academic paper that explains, in detail, how two very different fields of research — topological insulators and thermoelectrics — are in fact intimately connected at multiple levels. 

Professor Heremans' article was selected to grace the cover of the October edition of Nature Reviews Materials (Volume 2, Issue 10). The featured illustration was designed by Renee Ripley, program coordinator for the Thermal Materials Laboratory.One of the paper’s illustrations, designed by Renee Ripley, program coordinator for the Thermal Materials Laboratory, was selected as the featured artwork on the cover of the October edition of Nature Reviews Materials. This is the fourth time that Heremans’ research has been chosen to grace the cover of a Nature journal. His work has been prominently featured in Nature, Nature Materials and Nature Communications.

His paper’s coauthors are Robert J. Cava, of Princeton University, and Nitin Samarth, of Pennsylvania State University.

Heremans is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, which is one of the highest professional honors accorded to an engineer. He is one of only six non-retired Ohio State faculty members to receive this prestigious accolade.

He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Physical Society (APS), as well as a member of the Materials Research Society and the International Society for Optics and Photonics.

About Nature Reviews Materials

Nature Reviews Materials is a monthly multi-disciplinary review journal, which aims to provide timely, authoritative reviews and perspectives that are of broad interest. To learn more, click here.