Rhombohedral to Cubic Conversion of GeTe via MnTe Alloying Leads to Ultralow Thermal Conductivity, Electronic Band Convergence, and High Thermoelectric Performance

Zheng Zheng, Xianli Su, Rigui Deng, Constantinos Stoumpos, Hongyao Xie, Wei Liu, Yonggao Yan, Shiqiang Hao, Ctirad Uher, Chris Wolverton, Mercouri G Kanatzidis, Xinfeng Tang

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In this study, a series of Ge1-xMnxTe (x = 0-0.21) compounds were prepared by a melting-quenching-annealing process combined with spark plasma sintering (SPS). The effect of alloying MnTe into GeTe on the structure and thermoelectric properties of Ge1-xMnxTe is profound. With increasing content of MnTe, the structure of the Ge1-xMnxTe compounds gradually changes from rhombohedral to cubic, and the known R3m to Fm-3m phase transition temperature of GeTe moves from 700 K closer to room temperature. First-principles density functional theory calculations show that alloying MnTe into GeTe decreases the energy difference between the light and heavy valence bands in both the R3m and Fm-3m structures, enhancing a multiband character of the valence band edge that increases the hole carrier effective mass. The effect of this band convergence is a significant enhancement in the carrier effective mass from 1.44 m0 (GeTe) to 6.15 m0 (Ge0.85Mn0.15Te). In addition, alloying with MnTe decreases the phonon relaxation time by enhancing alloy scattering, reduces the phonon velocity, and increases Ge vacancies all of which result in an ultralow lattice thermal conductivity of 0.13 W m-1 K-1 at 823 K. Subsequent doping of the Ge0.9Mn0.1Te compositions with Sb lowers the typical very high hole carrier concentration and brings it closer to its optimal value enhancing the power factor, which combined with the ultralow thermal conductivity yields a maximum ZT value of 1.61 at 823 K (for Ge0.86Mn0.10Sb0.04Te). The average ZT value of the compound over the temperature range 400-800 K is 1.09, making it the best GeTe-based thermoelectric material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2673-2686
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Feb 21 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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