Jean-Pierre Fleurial and Thierry Caillat stand next to a model of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover and its Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator

Jean-Pierre Fleurial and Thierry Caillat have received a prestigious international award in honor of their contributions to the understanding and development of thermoelectric materials and devices that generate electricity for space missions in extreme environments. The two researchers stand next to a model of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover and its Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Two NASA scientists studying next-generation thermoelectric materials and converters for applications to radioisotope power systems (RPS) have been awarded the 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award by the International Thermoelectric Society for their decades-long leadership and contributions to the field.

The honor celebrates the seminal contributions to the development of novel thermoelectric materials and devices for space power applications made by Jean-Pierre Fleurial and Thierry Caillat, both from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by our peers,” Fleurial said. “It’s a testament to JPL and NASA’s recognized leadership and expertise in the field for the last 50 years.”

The award is equivalent to a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” It recognizes Fleurial’s and Caillat’s contributions to the understanding of thermoelectric materials and device properties under extreme space conditions.

Fleurial’s and Caillat’s work has helped establish two new radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) system development projects at NASA with this advanced technology for the first time in 50 years.

The new technology could be used by upgraded or new RTGs in support of future science and human exploration missions in the solar system and beyond.

Fleurial is a senior research scientist. Caillat is a principal member of the technical staff. Both earned their PhDs in Materials Science from National Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine, France, on the topic of high-performance thermoelectric materials, with a focus on solid state physics and condensed matter.

The award was presented to Fleurial on behalf of both honorees at the 38th International Conference on Thermoelectrics, held in July 2019 in Gyeongju, Korea.

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