Clemson University physicist Jian He and collaborators from China and Denmark created a potentially paradigm-shifting high-performance thermoelectric compound, reports Tech Xplore. “Our material is a unique hybrid atomic structure with half being crystalline and half amorphous,” said He. “If you have a unique or peculiar atomic structure, you would expect to see very unusual properties because properties follow structure.” The researchers created the hybrid material by intentionally mixing elements in the same group on the periodic table but with different atomic sizes. “Traditionally, thermoelectric materials are crystals,” said He. “Our material is not pure crystal, and we show we can achieve the same level of performance with a material with a new atomic structure.” Thermoelectrics directly convert heat into electricity and power an array of items – from NASA’s Perseverance rover to travel coolers that chill beverages.