Broad temperature plateau for thermoelectric figure of merit ZT>2 in phase-separated PbTe0.7S0.3

H. J. Wu, L. D. Zhao, F. S. Zheng, D. Wu, Y. L. Pei, X. Tong, M. G. Kanatzidis, J. Q. He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

466 Scopus citations


Thermoelectrics interconvert heat to electricity and are of great interest in waste heat recovery, solid-state cooling and so on. The efficiency of thermoelectric materials depends directly on the average ZT (dimensionless figure of merit) over a certain temperature range, which historically has been challenging to increase. Here we report that 2.5% K-doped PbTe 0.7 S 0.3 achieves a ZT of >2 for a very wide temperature range from 673 to 923 K and has a record high average ZT of 1.56 (corresponding to a theoretical energy conversion efficiency of ∼20.7% at the temperature gradient from 300 to 900 K). The PbTe0.7S0.3 composition shows spinodal decomposition with large PbTe-rich and PbS-rich regions where each region exhibits dissimilar types of nanostructures. Such high average ZT is obtained by synergistically optimized electrical-and thermal-transport properties via carrier concentration tuning, band structure engineering and hierarchical architecturing, and highlights a realistic prospect of wide applications of thermoelectrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4515
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jul 29 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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