Enhancement of thermoelectric efficiency in PbTe by distortion of the electronic density of states

Joseph P. Heremans, Vladimir Jovovic, Eric S. Toberer, Ali Saramat, Ken Kurosaki, Anek Charoenphakdee, Shinsuke Yamanaka, G. Jeffrey Snyder

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Abstract

The efficiency of thermoelectric energy converters is limited by the material thermoelectric figure of merit (zT). The recent advances in zT based on nanostructures limiting the phonon heat conduction is nearing a fundamental limit: The thermal conductivity cannot be reduced below the amorphous limit. We explored enhancing the Seebeck coefficient through a distortion of the electronic density of states and report a successful implementation through the use of the thallium impurity levels in lead telluride (PbTe). Such band structure engineering results in a doubling of zT in p-type PbTe to above 1.5 at 773 kelvin. Use of this new physical principle in conjunction with nanostructuring to lower the thermal conductivity could further enhance zT and enable more widespread use of thermoelectric systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-557
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume321
Issue number5888
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 25 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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    Heremans, J. P., Jovovic, V., Toberer, E. S., Saramat, A., Kurosaki, K., Charoenphakdee, A., Yamanaka, S., & Snyder, G. J. (2008). Enhancement of thermoelectric efficiency in PbTe by distortion of the electronic density of states. Science, 321(5888), 554-557. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1159725