Facile in situ solution synthesis of SnSe/rGO nanocomposites with enhanced thermoelectric performance†
Constructing nanostructured composite architectures has been considered as an effective strategy to reduce the lattice thermal conductivity (κL) and enhance the dimensionless figure of merit (ZT) of thermoelectric materials. Herein, a series of SnSe/reduced graphene oxide (rGO)-x (x = 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 wt%) nanocomposites are controllably synthesised in situ via a facile single-step bottom-up solution method, where rGO nanosheets are incorporated intimately into the SnSe matrix. Nanocompositing performs two key functions: (i) significantly reducing the lattice thermal conductivity of the material, which can be attributed to enhanced phonon scattering from high-density SnSe/rGO interfaces, and (ii) improving the electrical conductivity over the low temperature range, as result of an increased carrier concentration. The subsequent thermoelectric performance of SnSe/rGO sintered pellets has been optimised by tuning the rGO mass fraction, with SnSe/rGO-0.3 achieving κL = 0.36 W m−1 K−1 at 773 K (cutting the κL of SnSe by 33%) to yield a maximum ZT of 0.91 at 823 K (representing a ∼47% increase compared to SnSe). This study provides a new pathway to improve the thermoelectric performance of polycrystalline SnSe by way of engineering metal chalcogenide/rGO composite architectures at the nanoscale.