Unusual thermoelectric properties mediated by solute segregation in tellurium alloyed CoSbS†
The doping or alloying effect is effective for tuning the carrier concentration and/or lowering the lattice thermal conductivity in thermoelectrics. Herein, taking Co0.94Ni0.06SbS1−xTex as a typical example, we observed an unusual phenomenon where Te alloying mediates grain growth. It was observed that the Te dopant tended to be segregated along grain boundaries as a precipitate, resulting in an increase in grain size from 0.36 μm to 0.57 μm. The grain growth optimizes the low-temperature carrier scattering mechanism, leading to a higher power factor that represents a superior value in advanced sulfur-based thermoelectric materials. The lattice thermal conductivity was, however, slightly suppressed, which was higher than the Debye-model prediction. As a compromise, the average thermoelectric figure of merit (zT) was enhanced after Te doping, higher than those of other CoSbS based materials. Overall, this work proves the significance of solute segregation in the optimization of thermoelectric performance.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Journal of Materials Chemistry A Emerging Investigators