This MRI proposal requests a ULVAC ZEM 3M8 Thermoelectric Test Stand. This instrument will enhance Lamar University's research and education activities in materials science areas, its K-12 outreach program and future collaborates with other universities in the central/ southeast Texas and east Louisiana as well as local industrial partners. Lamar University (LU) is a mid size non-PhD granting university. In the past few years, faculty members developed externally funded research projects in materials development for energy related applications, including thermoelectric oxides for power generation from automobile waste heat and solid-state reaction to prepare novel catalysts for fuel cells. Many of the projects need to analyze thermoelectric and electrical properties. Although the university forms a Materials Instrumentation Center (MIC) that has assembled a number of analytical and characterization instruments to support the research, the lack of an instrument to characterize thermoelectric and electrical materials hinders the progress of the research work. At this time, samples are sent to Oak Ridge National Laboratories which is 500 miles away for analysis. Although LU has made significant progress in the thermoelectric oxide development, the long waiting time to analyze LU's samples seriously holds back its research progress. Because of the urgent need of the capability to characterize thermoelectric materials, the proposed test stand is a strategic addition to LU's capability energy materials research. The lack of the thermoelectric characterization capability not only delays LU's research progress but also jeopardize its collaboration with other research institutes in thermoelectric development.
A ZEM-3 thermoelectric test stand has been purchased and installed at Lamar University. This test stand is used to measure two important properties of a thermoelectric material, namely Seebeck coefficient and electrical conductivity. This test stand is currently well operated at temperatures ranged from room temperature to 800 °C under a controlled atmosphere (usually under 0.1 MPa helium). The addition of this test stand not only benefit Lamar Universityâ€™s materials research but also allow more students in the southeast Texas to have an opportunity to join energy materials research. For example, a collaboration between Texas State University and Lamar University has been established. Another collaboration with Clemson University is being discussed. Students at undergraduate and graduate levels are trained to operate this test stand to characterize novel thermoelectric oxides prepared by them using the Self-propagating High-temperature Synthesis process. With the support of this NSF fund, an undergraduate student visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory to explore herself to the leading development of new ceramics. Besides using in research projects, this test stand is has been used as a demonstration in both undergraduate and graduate levels classes, including Thermodynamics and Materials Science. It will also used as a teaching tool in Heat Transfer class in the future.