High-thermoelectric performance of nanostructured bismuth antimony telluride bulk alloys

Bed Poudel, Qing Hao, Yi Ma, Yucheng Lan, Austin Minnich, Bo Yu, Xiao Yan, Dezhi Wang, Andrew Muto, Daryoosh Vashaee, Xiaoyuan Chen, Junming Liu, Mildred S. Dresselhaus, Gang Chen, Zhifeng Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3705 Scopus citations

Abstract

The dimensionless thermoelectric figure of merit (ZT) in bismuth antimony telluride (BiSbTe) bulk alloys has remained around 1 for more than 50 years. We show that a peak ZT of 1.4 at 100°C can be achieved in a p-type nanocrystalline BiSbTe bulk alloy. These nanocrystalline bulk materials were made by hot pressing nanopowders that were ball-milled from crystalline ingots under inert conditions. Electrical transport measurements, coupled with microstructure studies and modeling, show that the ZT improvement is the result of low thermal conductivity caused by the increased phonon scattering by grain boundaries and defects. More importantly, ZT is about 1.2 at room temperature and 0.8 at 250°C, which makes these materials useful for cooling and power generation. Cooling devices that use these materials have produced high-temperature differences of 86°, 106°, and 119°C with hot-side temperatures set at 50°, 100°, and 150°C, respectively. This discovery sets the stage for use of a new nanocomposite approach in developing high-performance low-cost bulk thermoelectric materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)634-638
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume320
Issue number5876
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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