Strongly coupled electronic and thermal transport behavior in thermoelectric (TE) materials has limited their figure of merit (zT). Here we provide breakthrough in decoupling TE parameters in n-type (Hf0.6Zr0.4)NiSn0.99Sb0.01 half-Heusler (hH) alloys through multi-scale nanocomposite architecture comprising of tungsten nanoinclusions. The tungsten nanoparticles not only assist electron injection, thereby improving electrical conductivity, but also enhance the Seebeck coefficient through energy filtering effect. The microstructure comprises of disordered phases with varying size of microstructural features, which assists in effective scattering of heat-carrying phonons over diverse mean-free-path ranges. Cumulatively, these effects are shown to result in outstanding thermoelectric performance of zTmax ∼ 1.4 at 773 K and zTavg ∼ 0.93 between 300 and 973 K. Using this material, a TE generator is demonstrated, which exhibits high power density of 13.93 W cm−2 and conversion efficiency of 10.7% under ΔT = 674 K. The fundamental material design principle for TE nanocomposites demonstrated here can be generalized and extended to other TE systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering