Diameter dependent thermoelectric properties of individual SnTe nanowires†
The lead-free compound tin telluride (SnTe) has recently been suggested to be a promising thermoelectric material. In this work, we report on the first thermoelectric study of individual single-crystalline SnTe nanowires with different diameters ranging from ∼218 to ∼913 nm. Measurements of thermopower S, electrical conductivity σ and thermal conductivity κ were carried out on the same nanowires over a temperature range of 25–300 K. While the electrical conductivity does not show a strong diameter dependence, the thermopower increases by a factor of two when the nanowire diameter is decreased from ∼913 nm to ∼218 nm. The thermal conductivity of the measured NWs is lower than that of the bulk SnTe, which may arise from the enhanced phonon – surface boundary scattering and phonon-defect scattering. Temperature dependent figure of merit ZT was determined for individual nanowires and the achieved maximum value at room temperature is about three times higher than that in bulk samples of comparable carrier density.