American Chemical Society
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Asymmetric Thermoelectric Performance Tuning in Low-Cost ZrFexNi1–xSb Double Half-Heusler Materials

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Version 2 2023-04-05, 20:10
Version 1 2023-04-03, 13:37
journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-05, 20:10 authored by Joseph Ngugi Kahiu, Samuel Kimani Kihoi, Hyunji Kim, U. Sandhya Shenoy, D. Krishna Bhat, Ho Seong Lee
The new paradigm for increasing the commercial viability of thermoelectric materials in the energy sector is the theoretical prediction and subsequent experimental validation and optimization of cheaper and inherently more efficient compositions. Herein, the experimental validation of the recently theoretically predicted ZrFe0.50Ni0.50Sb double half-Heusler and the ability to intrinsically tune this system to optimized p- or n-type materials by varying the Fe/Ni ratio in the synthesized ZrFexNi1–xSb (x = 0.35–0.65) samples are demonstrated. The samples are synthesized by arc melting, hot pressing, and annealing. Subsequent microstructural analysis confirms the crystallization of the ZrFexNi1–xSb into the half-Heusler structure and reveals that the variation of the Fe/Ni ratio favors the Ni-rich side. Consequently, the best p-type x = 0.55 and n-type x = 0.35 samples exhibit higher power factor values stemming from an increased carrier concentration, higher density of state effective mass, and suppressed bipolar conduction, as indicated by the Hall data analysis and density functional theory simulations. The additional lattice disorders introduced by varying the Fe/Ni ratio suppress the thermal conductivity and increase the microhardness of the n-type samples. The ZrFe0.35Ni0.65Sb and ZrFe0.55Ni0.45Sb samples achieve maximum zTs of ∼0.43 and 0.06, respectively, which is a great improvement over the ∼0.001 value of the ZrFe0.50Ni0.50Sb sample. These results highlight the viability of tuning the performance of double half-Heuslers on the doubly doped site. They will be instrumental in demonstrating the feasibility of developing low-cost double half-Heusler materials with better intrinsic and highly tunable properties.