Compositional Fluctuations Locked by Athermal Transformation Yielding High Thermoelectric Performance in GeTe

Yi Fen Tsai, Pai Chun Wei, Liuwen Chang, Kuang Kuo Wang, Chun Chuen Yang, Yen Chung Lai, Cheng Rong Hsing, Ching Ming Wei, Jian He, G. Jeffrey Snyder, Hsin Jay Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Phase transition in thermoelectric (TE) material is a double-edged sword—it is undesired for device operation in applications, but the fluctuations near an electronic instability are favorable. Here, Sb doping is used to elicit a spontaneous composition fluctuation showing uphill diffusion in GeTe that is otherwise suspended by diffusionless athermal cubic-to-rhombohedral phase transition at around 700 K. The interplay between these two phase transitions yields exquisite composition fluctuations and a coexistence of cubic and rhombohedral phases in favor of exceptional figures-of-merit zT. Specifically, alloying GeTe by Sb2Te3 significantly suppresses the thermal conductivity while retaining eligible carrier concentration over a wide composition range, resulting in high zT values of >2.6. These results not only attest to the efficacy of using phase transition in manipulating the microstructures of GeTe-based materials but also open up a new thermodynamic route to develop higher performance TE materials in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2005612
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2021


  • displacive phase transformation
  • germanium telluride
  • thermoelectric figure of merit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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