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      High Performance Thermoelectric Materials: Progress and Their Applications

      1 , 2 , 1 , 3 , 1 , 2 , 4 , 1 , 5

      Advanced Energy Materials

      Wiley

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          Convergence of electronic bands for high performance bulk thermoelectrics.

          Thermoelectric generators, which directly convert heat into electricity, have long been relegated to use in space-based or other niche applications, but are now being actively considered for a variety of practical waste heat recovery systems-such as the conversion of car exhaust heat into electricity. Although these devices can be very reliable and compact, the thermoelectric materials themselves are relatively inefficient: to facilitate widespread application, it will be desirable to identify or develop materials that have an intensive thermoelectric materials figure of merit, zT, above 1.5 (ref. 1). Many different concepts have been used in the search for new materials with high thermoelectric efficiency, such as the use of nanostructuring to reduce phonon thermal conductivity, which has led to the investigation of a variety of complex material systems. In this vein, it is well known that a high valley degeneracy (typically ≤6 for known thermoelectrics) in the electronic bands is conducive to high zT, and this in turn has stimulated attempts to engineer such degeneracy by adopting low-dimensional nanostructures. Here we demonstrate that it is possible to direct the convergence of many valleys in a bulk material by tuning the doping and composition. By this route, we achieve a convergence of at least 12 valleys in doped PbTe(1-x)Se(x) alloys, leading to an extraordinary zT value of 1.8 at about 850 kelvin. Band engineering to converge the valence (or conduction) bands to achieve high valley degeneracy should be a general strategy in the search for and improvement of bulk thermoelectric materials, because it simultaneously leads to a high Seebeck coefficient and high electrical conductivity. ©2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
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            Ultralow thermal conductivity and high thermoelectric figure of merit in SnSe crystals.

            The thermoelectric effect enables direct and reversible conversion between thermal and electrical energy, and provides a viable route for power generation from waste heat. The efficiency of thermoelectric materials is dictated by the dimensionless figure of merit, ZT (where Z is the figure of merit and T is absolute temperature), which governs the Carnot efficiency for heat conversion. Enhancements above the generally high threshold value of 2.5 have important implications for commercial deployment, especially for compounds free of Pb and Te. Here we report an unprecedented ZT of 2.6 ± 0.3 at 923 K, realized in SnSe single crystals measured along the b axis of the room-temperature orthorhombic unit cell. This material also shows a high ZT of 2.3 ± 0.3 along the c axis but a significantly reduced ZT of 0.8 ± 0.2 along the a axis. We attribute the remarkably high ZT along the b axis to the intrinsically ultralow lattice thermal conductivity in SnSe. The layered structure of SnSe derives from a distorted rock-salt structure, and features anomalously high Grüneisen parameters, which reflect the anharmonic and anisotropic bonding. We attribute the exceptionally low lattice thermal conductivity (0.23 ± 0.03 W m(-1) K(-1) at 973 K) in SnSe to the anharmonicity. These findings highlight alternative strategies to nanostructuring for achieving high thermoelectric performance.
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              Thermoelectric figure of merit of a one-dimensional conductor

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Advanced Energy Materials
                Adv. Energy Mater.
                Wiley
                16146832
                February 2018
                February 2018
                November 07 2017
                : 8
                : 6
                : 1701797
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Materials Engineering; The University of Queensland; Brisbane QLD 4072 Australia
                [2 ]Defence Materials Technology Centre; Hawthorn VIC 3122 Australia
                [3 ]Centre of Future Materials; University of Southern Queensland; Springfield QLD 4300 Australia
                [4 ]Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing (AMPAM); The University of Queensland; Brisbane QLD 4072 Australia
                [5 ]Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis; The University of Queensland; Brisbane QLD 4072 Australia
                Article
                10.1002/aenm.201701797
                © 2017

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