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Nano Research

Article Title

Origin of inhomogeneity in spark plasma sintered bismuth antimony telluride thermoelectric nanocomposites

Authors

Enzheng Shi, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA Ames Laboratory, Department of Energy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
Shuang Cui, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA Buildings and Thermal Sciences Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO 80401, USA
Nicholas Kempf, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
Qingfeng Xing, Ames Laboratory, Department of Energy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
Thomas Chasapis, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA
Huazhang Zhu, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
Zhe Li, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
Je-Hyeong Bahk, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
G. Jeffrey Snyder, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA
Yanliang Zhang, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
Renkun Chen, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
Yue Wu, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA Ames Laboratory, Department of Energy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

Keywords

bismuth antimony telluride, solution synthesis, thermoelectrics, inhomogeneity

Abstract

Anisotropy and inhomogeneity are ubiquitous in spark plasma sintered thermoelectric devices. However, the origin of inhomogeneity in thermoelectric nanocomposites has rarely been investigated so far. Herein, we systematically study the impact of inhomogeneity in spark plasma sintered bismuth antimony telluride (BiSbTe) thermoelectric nanocomposites fabricated from solution-synthesized nanoplates. The figure of merit can reach 1.18, which, however, can be overestimated to 1.88 without considering the inhomogeneity. Our study reveals that the inhomogeneity in thermoelectric properties is attributed to the non-uniformity of porosity, textures and elemental distribution from electron backscatter diffraction and energy-dispersive spectroscopy characterizations. This finding suggests that the optimization of bulk material homogeneity should also be actively pursued in any future thermoelectric material research.

Graphical Abstract

Publisher

Tsinghua University Press

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