Flexible, light-weight and robust thermoelectric (TE) materials have attracted much attention to convert waste heat from low-grade heat sources, such as human body, to electricity. Carbon nanotube (CNT) yarn is one of the potential TE materials owing to its narrow band-gap energy, high charge carrier mobility, and excellent mechanical property, which is conducive for flexible and wearable devices. Herein, we propose a way to improve the power factor of CNT yarns fabricated from few-walled carbon nanotubes (FWCNTs) by two-step method; Joule-annealing in the vacuum followed by doping with p-type dopants, 2,3,5,6-tetrafluo-7,7,8,8-tetracyanoquinodimethane (F4TCNQ). Numerical calculations and experimental results explain that Joule-annealing and doping modulate the electronic states (Fermi energy level) of FWCNTs, resulting in extremely large thermoelectric power factor of 2250 µW m−1 K−2 at a measurement temperature of 423 K. Joule-annealing removes amorphous carbon on the surface of the CNT yarn, which facilitates doping in the subsequent step, and leads to higher Seebeck coefficient due to the transformation from (semi) metallic to semiconductor behavior. Doping also significantly increases the electrical conductivity due to the effective charge transfers between CNT yarn and F4TCNQ upon the removal of amorphous carbon after Joule-annealing.
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