We propose a type of thermoelectric materials incorporating metallic nanowires in insulating polymers. It is shown that the hybridization of poor thermoelectric materials such as metal and polymer can achieve high performance of thermoelectricity. The electrical conductivity of such hybrid materials is controllable by the volume fraction of metallic nanowires which is above a percolation critical value. Meanwhile, the Seebeck coefficient shows a weak dependence on the volume fraction. Low thermal conductivities required for achieving the high figure of merit can be fulfilled from both the low thermal conductivity of polymer and the interfacial thermal resistance between nanowires and polymer. In this regard, we propose the concept “electron-percolation thermal-insulator,” providing a guide to design efficient hybrid thermoelectric materials.

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