Microstructure-lattice thermal conductivity correlation in nanostructured PbTe 0.7 S 0.3 thermoelectric materials

Jiaqing He*, Steven N. Girard, Mercouri Kanatzidis, Vinayak P Dravid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


The reduction of thermal conductivity, and a comprehensive understanding of the microstructural constituents that cause this reduction, represent some of the important challenges for the further development of thermoelectric materials with improved figure of merit. Model PbTe-based thermoelectric materials that exhibit very low lattice thermal conductivity have been chosen for this microstructure-thermal conductivity correlation study. The nominal PbTe 0-7 S 0.3 composition spinodally decomposes into two phases: PbTe and PbS. Orderly misfit dislocations, incomplete relaxed strain, and structuremodulated contrast rather than composition-modulated contrast are observed at the boundaries between the two phases. Furthermore, the samples also contain regularly shaped nanometer-scale precipitates. The theoretical calculations of the lattice thermal conductivity of the PbTe 0.7 S 0.3 material, based on transmission electron microscopy observations, closely aligns with experimental measurements of the thermal conductivity of a very low value, ∼8Wm -1 K -1 at room temperature, approximately 35% and 30% of the value of the lattice thermal conductivity of either PbTe and PbS, respectively. It is shown that phase boundaries, interfacial dislocations, and nanometer-scale precipitates play an important role in enhancing phonon scattering and, therefore, in reducing the lattice thermal conductivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-772
Number of pages9
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 9 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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