The presence of lone pair (LP) electrons is strongly associated with the disruption of lattice heat transport, which is a critical component of strategies to achieve efficient thermoelectric energy conversion. By exploiting an empirical relationship between lattice thermal conductivity, κL, and the bond angles of pnictogen group LP cation coordination environments, we develop an inverse design strategy based on a materials database screening to identify chalcogenide materials with ultralow κL for thermoelectrics. Screening the ∼635000 real and hypothetical inorganic crystals of the Open Quantum Materials Database based on the constituent elements, nominal electron counting, LP cation coordination environment, and synthesizability, we identify 189 compounds expected to exhibit ultralow κL. As a validation, we explicitly compute the lattice dynamical properties of two of the compounds (Cu2AgBiPbS4 and MnTl2As2S5) using first-principles calculations and successfully find both achieve ultralow κL values at room temperature of ∼0.3-0.4 W/(m·K) corresponding to the amorphous limit. Our data-driven approach provides promising candidates for thermoelectric materials and opens new avenues for the design of phononic properties of materials.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry