Enhanced thermoelectric performance of GeTe-rich germanium antimony tellurides through the control of composition and structure
Germanium antimony telluride (GeSbTe or GST), a popular material in optical and non-volatile memory devices, attracted renewed attention due to its potential for thermoelectric applications. In this study, we have employed a two-stage engineering process to enhance the thermoelectric properties of GeTe-rich GeSbTe. First, we introduced vacancy into the material by modifying the germanium content without disrupting the crystal structure. This influenced the electronic properties of the GeTe-rich GeSbTe and improved the overall dimensionless figure of merit, zT, from 0.7 to 1.1. Second, we rapidly cooled the material after annealing, further enhancing the zT value from 1.1 to 1.48 – one of the highest values reported for this material. In-depth studies suggest that disorder in the crystal structure was created via rapid cooling enhanced phonon scattering and effectively reduced the thermal conductivity, which, in turn, enhanced the thermoelectric performance.