Ultralow thermal conductivity and high thermoelectric figure of merit in SnSe crystals

Li Dong Zhao, Shih Han Lo, Yongsheng Zhang, Hui Sun, Gangjian Tan, Ctirad Uher, C. Wolverton, Vinayak P. Dravid, Mercouri G Kanatzidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1589 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The thermoelectric effect enables direct and reversible conversion between thermal and electrical energy, and provides a viable route for power generation from waste heat. The efficiency of thermoelectric materials is dictated by the dimensionless figure of merit, ZT (where Z is the figure of merit and T is absolute temperature), which governs the Carnot efficiency for heat conversion. Enhancements above the generally high threshold value of 2.5 have important implications for commercial deployment, especially for compounds free of Pb and Te. Here we report an unprecedented ZT of 2.6±0.3 at 923 K, realized in SnSe single crystals measured along the b axis of the room-temperature orthorhombic unit cell. This material also shows a high ZT of 2.3±0.3 along the c axis but a significantly reduced ZT of 0.8±0.2 along the a axis. We attribute the remarkably high ZT along the b axis to the intrinsically ultralow lattice thermal conductivity in SnSe. The layered structure of SnSe derives from a distorted rock-salt structure, and features anomalously high Grüneisen parameters, which reflect the anharmonic and anisotropic bonding. We attribute the exceptionally low lattice thermal conductivity (0.23±0.03 W m-1 K-1 at 973 K) in SnSe to the anharmonicity. These findings highlight alternative strategies to nanostructuring for achieving high thermoelectric performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-377
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume508
Issue number7496
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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figure of merit
thermal conductivity
crystals
waste heat
halites
thermoelectric materials
electric power
thermal energy
routes
heat
thresholds
augmentation
single crystals
room temperature
cells
temperature

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Ultralow thermal conductivity and high thermoelectric figure of merit in SnSe crystals. / Zhao, Li Dong; Lo, Shih Han; Zhang, Yongsheng; Sun, Hui; Tan, Gangjian; Uher, Ctirad; Wolverton, C.; Dravid, Vinayak P.; Kanatzidis, Mercouri G.

In: Nature, Vol. 508, No. 7496, 2014, p. 373-377.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Zhao, LD, Lo, SH, Zhang, Y, Sun, H, Tan, G, Uher, C, Wolverton, C, Dravid, VP & Kanatzidis, MG 2014, 'Ultralow thermal conductivity and high thermoelectric figure of merit in SnSe crystals', Nature, vol. 508, no. 7496, pp. 373-377. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13184
Zhao, Li Dong ; Lo, Shih Han ; Zhang, Yongsheng ; Sun, Hui ; Tan, Gangjian ; Uher, Ctirad ; Wolverton, C. ; Dravid, Vinayak P. ; Kanatzidis, Mercouri G. / Ultralow thermal conductivity and high thermoelectric figure of merit in SnSe crystals. In: Nature. 2014 ; Vol. 508, No. 7496. pp. 373-377.
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