The Technology - Beginner
Semiconductors are a wonderful, almost magical material. As the name suggests, they sometimes conduct. If you can give a semiconductor some "energy" it will convert itself from an insulator into a conductor. This strange and exquisite phenomenon can be used to make simple devices. For example, semiconductors are used as a basic on-off switch since they switch between conducting and not conducting. Techno folks have been using semiconductors for years - they are the basis of transistors, computers, etc. Semiconductors have well-known properties. Through the advances of nanotechnology, we can now make nano-sized semiconductors that have never-before-seen properties!
For nearly half a century, scientists have been exploring semiconductor materials for use in TE applications to no avail - the overall efficiency remains way too low. With nano-sized semiconductor materials, we can breathe new life into this technology because we can "tune" the material to fit the application. So, instead of going to the corners of the earth searching for new semiconductor materials with compelling TE properties, we can make them in the lab. Ain't science fun?