Phase separation and nanostructuring in the thermoelectric material PbTe1-x Sx studied using the atomic pair distribution function technique

He Lin, E. S. Božin, S. J.L. Billinge, J. Androulakis, C. D. Malliakas, C. H. Lin, M. G. Kanatzidis

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The average and local structures of the (PbTe) 1-x (PbS) x system of thermoelectric materials has been studied using the Rietveld and atomic pair distribution function methods. Samples with 0.25≤x are macroscopically phase separated. Phase separation was suppressed in a quenched x=0.5 sample which, nonetheless, exhibited a partial spinodal decomposition. The promising thermoelectric material with x=0.16 showed intermediate behavior. Combining TEM and bulk scattering data suggests that the sample is a mixture of PbTe-rich material and a partially spinodally decomposed phase similar to the quenched 50% sample. This confirms that, in the bulk, this sample is inhomogeneous on a nanometer length scale, which may account for its enhanced thermoelectric figure of merit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045204
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 6 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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