Phase Stability and Ordering in Rock Salt-Based Thermoelectrics: NaSbX2, AgSbX2, and Their Alloys with PbX and SnX (X = S, Se, Te)

Xia Hua*, Vinay I. Hegde, Christopher Wolverton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Using first-principles density functional calculations, we study the phase stability and cation ordering behavior in ABX2, PbX-ABX2, and SnTe-ABTe2 (A = Na, Ag; B = Sb; X = S, Se, Te) thermoelectrics that crystallize in rock salt-based lattices. We construct, separately for each ABX2 system, cluster expansions fitted to T = 0 K energies of cation-ordered arrangements in order to identify the respective ground-state structures. We calculate the mixing energetics of A/B and {Pb, Sn}/AB cation-disordered solid solutions in ABX2 and {Pb, Sn}X-ABX2 systems, respectively, using special quasirandom structures. We find that (i) L11, a rock salt-based superlattice with A1B1 stacking of cations along [111], is often the most favored cation ordering type across ABX2 systems due to the ability of this superlattice structure to accommodate large size mismatches between A and B; (ii) A/B cation ordering is only weakly preferred over disorder in all ABX2 systems, by <34 meV/cation, consistent with experimental observations of disordered rock salt phases at high temperatures; (iii) Na-containing ABX2 systems strongly favor the formation of the ternary compound over the corresponding ground-state mixture of A2X + B2X3 binary compounds, while Ag-containing ABX2 systems do not; (iv) the experimentally reported noncubic phases of NaSbS2 and AgSbS2 are in fact distorted cation-ordered rock salt structures; and (v) all {Pb, Sn}X-ABX2 systems show miscibility gaps in their phase diagrams, and this is partly due to the unfavorable electrostatics of ternary cation mixing relative to Pb or Sn + AB cation phase separation; however, estimation of the miscibility gap temperature using mean-field configurational entropy indicates that all systems except PbTe-AgSbTe2 will readily mix at relatively low temperatures. Our study of the structural properties, alloying behavior, and solubility limits in these promising materials is a crucial step forward in improving their thermoelectric performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9445-9452
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 26 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry


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