J. R. Sootsman, J. He, V. P. Dravid, S. Ballikaya, D. Vermeulen, C. Uher, M. G. Kanatzidis
The microstructure and thermoelectric properties of the PbTe-Si eutectic system are presented in detail. When rapidly quenched from the melt this system yields materials with thermoelectric properties similar to PbTe itself but with improved mechanical properties. Doping optimization was performed using PbI2 as an n-type dopant giving precise control of the thermoelectric properties. Electron microscopy indicates that the PbTe-Si system is both a nanocomposite and microcomposite. Despite the added Si, the thermal conductivity of this composite follows closely that of PbTe. The temperature dependence of the Lorenz number was estimated, and it shows a significant departure from the value of metals (L0) reaching only 45% of L0 at 650 K. The optimized ZT for the PbTe-Si(8%) eutectic was 0.9 at 675 K. The improved mechanical robustness of these composites makes them attractive for use in large scale thermoelectric device fabrication.
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