Seventy-five students from across the country and around the world gathered at Mines this past July for the first graduate student summer school on thermoelectrics in the United States in two decades.
Physics Assistant Professor Eric Toberer organized the International Summer School on Thermoelectrics, which took place July 25 to 27, with Alexandra Zevalkink, assistant professor at Michigan State University. Funding came from the Mines Office of Technology Transfer and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
“Our objective was to provide an opportunity for students to develop new collaborations and to hear from leaders in the field about the current state of the art and fundamentals,” Toberer said. “Breakout discussions were a big part of this conference, largely as a forum to have graduate students interact with each other and gain insight from experts.”
Topics ranged from the physics of thermoelectric materials to materials synthesis, to practical module design. Speakers included scientists from NREL, Northwestern University, Georgia Tech, Duke University and Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource.
Attendees came from the U.S., Switzerland, South Korea, Japan, India and Spain. “We had a 100 percent acceptance policy for graduate students in thermoelectric research groups,” Toberer said. Several undergraduate Mines students who have been conducting research in thermoelectrics also took part. “The summer school paid for lodging, food and registration; the students simply had to arrive,” Toberer said.
Brenden Ortiz, a Mines PhD student, received the Journal of Materials Chemistry A poster award for best overall presentation.
The organizers hope to collaborate with the International Thermoelectric Society for next year’s summer school and hold it in conjunction with their national meeting in Los Angeles. “After that, I hope to make it an annual event at Mines that alternates between introductory and advanced topics,” Toberer said.
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