Purification by SPS and formation of a unique 3D nanoscale network: the showcase of Ni–Cr–S†
The occurrence of a unique 3D nanoscale network in Ni–Cr–S, treated via spark-plasma sintering, was discovered with a variety of ex situ and in situ TEM and XRD techniques. The starting material, consisting of a heterogeneous mixture of different phases, could be purified upon application of the sintering process. The obtained samples showed a network of chemically segregated domains being either Ni rich and Cr deficient or vice versa. These domains could be proven to intergrow fully coherently in 3D, thus establishing a unique microstructure. Electron beam irradiation caused the initial Cr3S4-type structures to transform into the disordered NiAs-type. The disordering is characterised by significant short-range ordering as indicated by the appearance of prominent diffuse scattering. Thermoelectric characterisation at room temperature indicated an n-type semiconductor behaviour with thermal and electrical conductivities similar to usual thermoelectric materials, however with a low Seebeck coefficient and a low power factor of 49.3 μW m−1 K−2.