Surfactant-free synthesis of Bi2Te3-Te micro-nano heterostructure with enhanced thermoelectric figure of merit

Yichi Zhang, Heng Wang, Stephan Kräemer, Yifeng Shi, Fan Zhang, Matt Snedaker, Kunlun Ding, Martin Moskovits, G. Jeffrey Snyder, Galen D. Stucky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


An ideal thermoelectric material would be a semiconductor with high electrical conductivity and relatively low thermal conductivity: an "electron crystal, phonon glass". Introducing nanoscale heterostructures into the bulk TE matrix is one way of achieving this intuitively anomalous electron/phonon transport behavior. The heterostructured interfaces are expected to play a significant role in phonon scattering to reduce thermal conductivity and in the energy-dependent scattering of electrical carriers to improve the Seebeck coefficient. A nanoparticle building block assembly approach is plausible to fabricate three-dimensional heterostructured materials on a bulk commercial scale. However, a key problem in applying this strategy is the possible negative impact on TE performance of organic residue from the nanoparticle capping ligands. Herein, we report a wet chemical, surfactant-free, low-temperature, and easily up-scalable strategy for the synthesis of nanoscale heterophase Bi2Te3-Te via a galvanic replacement reaction. The micro-nano heterostructured material is fabricated bottom-up, by mixing the heterophase with commercial Bi 2Te3. This unique structure shows an enhanced zT value of ∼0.4 at room temperature. This heterostructure has one of the highest figures of merit among bismuth telluride systems yet achieved by a wet chemical bottom-up assembly. In addition, it shows a 40% enhancement of the figure of merit over our lab-made material without nanoscale heterostructures. This enhancement is mainly due to the decrease in the thermal conductivity while maintaining the power factor. Overall, this cost-efficient and room-temperature synthesis methodology provides the potential for further improvement and large-scale thermoelectric applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3158-3165
Number of pages8
JournalACS nano
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 26 2011


  • bismuth telluride
  • galvanic replacement
  • heterostructure
  • thermoelectric material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Surfactant-free synthesis of Bi2Te3-Te micro-nano heterostructure with enhanced thermoelectric figure of merit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this