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Investigation of the Thermoelectric Properties of Metal Chalcogenides with SnSe

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Thermoelectric materials, which convert heat energy to electrical energy, may become increasingly important in the world’s energy situation. Through the inclusion of nanoscale features embedded within a thermoelectric bulk material, it has been shown that a corresponding decrease in lattice thermal conductivity results in an enhanced thermoelectric figure of merit, ZT. This project focused on a new method of nanostructuring: lowering the lattice thermal conductivity by generating a two-phase material in which one phase had nanoscale layers to scatter phonons. The thermoelectric properties of metal chalcogenides with SnSe were investigated for three systems: PbTe-SnSe, PbSe-SnSe, and SnTe-SnSe. PbTe-SnSe formed a solid solution with decreased thermal conductivity over PbTe but poor ZT. PbSe-SnSe and SnTe-SnSe formed multiphase systems with significantly decreased thermal conductivities compared to their parent materials at room temperature (maximum 26.2% and 87%, respectively). In addition, SnTe-SnSe showed promise for further research because it is naturally p-type, less toxic than lead-based materials, and showed a maximum ZT of 0.45 at 700K for a SnTe-SnSe 20% sample.

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  • 07/24/2018
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