American Chemical Society
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Band and Phonon Engineering for Thermoelectric Enhancements of Rhombohedral GeTe

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-08-16, 19:33 authored by Hongxia Liu, Xinyue Zhang, Juan Li, Zhonglin Bu, Xiang Meng, Ran Ang, Wen Li
Rhombohedral GeTe can be approximated as the directional distortion of the cubic GeTe along [111]. Such a symmetry-breaking of the crystal structure results in an opposite arrangement in energy of the L and Σ valence bands, and a split of them into 3L+1Z and 6Σ+6η, respectively. This enables a manipulation of the overall band degeneracy for thermoelectric enhancements through a precise control of the degree of crystal structure deviating from a cubic structure for the alignment of the split bands. Here, we show the effect of AgBiSe2-alloying on the crystal structure as well as thermoelectric transport properties of rhombohedral GeTe. AgBiSe2-alloying is found to not only finely manipulate the crystal structure for band convergence and thereby an increased band degeneracy, but also flatten the valence band for an increased band effective mass. Both of them result in an increased density of state effective mass and therefore an enhanced Seebeck coefficient along with a decreased mobility. Moreover, a remarkably reduced lattice thermal conductivity of ∼0.4 W/m-K is obtained due to the introduced additional point defect phonon scattering and bond softening by the alloying. With the help of Bi-doping at the Ge site for further optimizing the carrier concentration, thermoelectric figure of merit, zT, of ∼1.7 and average zTave of ∼0.9 are achieved in 5% AgBiSe2-alloyed rhombohedral GeTe, which demonstrates this material as a promising candidate for low-temperature thermoelectric applications.