Electronic quality factor for thermoelectrics

Xinyue Zhang, Zhonglin Bu, Xuemin Shi, Zhiwei Chen, Siqi Lin, Bing Shan, Maxwell Wood, Alemayouh H. Snyder, Lidong Chen, G. Jeffrey Snyder*, Yanzhong Pei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Development of thermoelectrics usually involves trial-and-error investigations, including time-consuming synthesis and measurements. Here, we identify the electronic quality factor BE for determining the maximum thermoelectric power factor, which can be conveniently estimated by a single measurement of Seebeck coefficient and electrical conductivity of only one sample, not necessarily optimized, at an arbitrary temperature. We demonstrate that thousands of experimental measurements in dozens of materials can all be described by a universal curve and a single material parameter BE for each class of materials. Furthermore, any deviation in BE with temperature or doping indicated new effects such as band convergence or additional scattering. This makes BE a powerful tool for evaluating and guiding the development of thermoelectrics. We demonstrate the power of BE to show both p-type GeTe alloys and n-type Mg3SbBi alloys as highly competitive materials, at near room temperature, to state-of-the-art Bi2Te3 alloys used in nearly all commercial applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabc0726
JournalScience Advances
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 13 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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