Zintl chemistry for designing high efficiency thermoelectric materials

Eric S. Toberer, Andrew F. May, G. Jeffrey Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

475 Scopus citations


Zintl phases and related compounds are promising thermoelectric materials; for instance, high zThas been found in Yb14MnSbn 11, clathrates, and the filled skutterudites. The rich solid-state chemistry of Zintl phases enables numerous possibilities for chemical substitutions and structural modifications that allow the fundamental transport parameters (carrier concentration, mobility, effective mass, and lattice thermal conductivity) to be modified for improved thermoelectric performance. For example, free carrier concentration is determined by the valence imbalance using Zintl chemistry, thereby enabling the rational optimization of zT. The low thermal conductivity values obtained in Zintl thcrmoelectrics arise from a diverse range of sources, including point defect scattering and the low velocity of optical phonon modes. Despite their complex structures and chemistry, the transport properties of many modern thermoelectrics can be understood using traditional models for heavily doped semiconductors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)624-634
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 9 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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