Fracture toughness of thermoelectric materials

Guodong Li, Qi An, Bo Duan, Leah Borgsmiller, Muath Al Malki, Matthias Agne, Umut Aydemir, Pengcheng Zhai, Qingjie Zhang*, Sergey I. Morozov, William A. Goddard, G. Jeffrey Snyder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The engineering applications of thermoelectric (TE) devices require TE materials possessing high TE performance and robust mechanical properties. Research on thermal and electrical transport properties of TE materials has made significant progress during the last two decades, developing TE materials on the threshold of commercial applications. However, research on mechanical strength and toughness has lagged behind, restricting application of TE materials. Mechanical failure in these materials involves multi-scale processes spanning from atomistic scale to macro scale. We have proposed an integral stress-displacement method to estimate fracture toughness from intrinsic mechanical behavior. In this review, we summarize our recent progress on fracture toughness of TE materials. This is in three parts: (1) Predicting fracture toughness of TE materials from intrinsic mechanical behavior; (2) Intrinsic mechanical behavior and underlying failure mechanism of TE materials; and (3) Nanotwin and nanocomposite strategies for enhancing the mechanical strength and fracture toughness of TE materials. These findings provide essential comprehensive understanding of fracture behavior from micro to the macro scale, laying the foundation for developing reliable TE devices for engineering applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100607
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering R: Reports
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Fracture toughness
  • Intrinsic mechanical behavior
  • Nanocomposites
  • Nanotwins
  • Thermoelectric materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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