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Issue 2, 2016
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Power generation from nanostructured PbTe-based thermoelectrics: comprehensive development from materials to modules

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Abstract

In this work, we demonstrate the use of high performance nanostructured PbTe-based materials in high conversion efficiency thermoelectric modules. We fabricated the samples of PbTe–2% MgTe doped with 4% Na and PbTe doped with 0.2% PbI2 with high thermoelectric figure of merit (ZT) and sintered them with Co–Fe diffusion barriers for use as p- and n-type thermoelectric legs, respectively. Transmission electron microscopy of the PbTe legs reveals two shapes of nanostructures, disk-like and spherical. The reduction in lattice thermal conductivity through nanostructuring gives a ZT of ∼1.8 at 810 K for p-type PbTe and ∼1.4 at 750 K for n-type PbTe. Nanostructured PbTe-based module and segmented-leg module using Bi2Te3 and nanostructured PbTe were fabricated and tested with hot-side temperatures up to 873 K in a vacuum. The maximum conversion efficiency of ∼8.8% for a temperature difference (ΔT) of 570 K and ∼11% for a ΔT of 590 K have been demonstrated in the nanostructured PbTe-based module and segmented Bi2Te3/nanostructured PbTe module, respectively. Three-dimensional finite-element simulations predict that the maximum conversion efficiency of the nanostructured PbTe-based module and segmented Bi2Te3/nanostructured PbTe module reaches 12.2% for a ΔT of 570 K and 15.6% for a ΔT of 590 K respectively, which could be achieved if the electrical and thermal contact between the nanostructured PbTe legs and Cu interconnecting electrodes is further improved.

Graphical abstract: Power generation from nanostructured PbTe-based thermoelectrics: comprehensive development from materials to modules

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
28 Sep 2015
Accepted
16 Nov 2015
First published
27 Nov 2015

Energy Environ. Sci., 2016,9, 517-529
Article type
Paper
Author version available

Power generation from nanostructured PbTe-based thermoelectrics: comprehensive development from materials to modules

X. Hu, P. Jood, M. Ohta, M. Kunii, K. Nagase, H. Nishiate, M. G. Kanatzidis and A. Yamamoto, Energy Environ. Sci., 2016, 9, 517
DOI: 10.1039/C5EE02979A

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