Direct Observation of Inherent Atomic-Scale Defect Disorders responsible for High-Performance Ti1− xHfxNiSn1− ySby Half-Heusler Thermoelectric Alloys

Ki Sung Kim, Young Min Kim, Hyeona Mun, Jisoo Kim, Jucheol Park, Albina Y. Borisevich, Kyu Hyoung Lee, Sung Wng Kim

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Structural defects often dominate the electronic- and thermal-transport properties of thermoelectric (TE) materials and are thus a central ingredient for improving their performance. However, understanding the relationship between TE performance and the disordered atomic defects that are generally inherent in nanostructured alloys remains a challenge. Herein, the use of scanning transmission electron microscopy to visualize atomic defects directly is described and disordered atomic-scale defects are demonstrated to be responsible for the enhancement of TE performance in nanostructured Ti1− xHfxNiSn1− ySby half-Heusler alloys. The disordered defects at all atomic sites induce a local composition fluctuation, effectively scattering phonons and improving the power factor. It is observed that the Ni interstitial and Ti,Hf/Sn antisite defects are collectively formed, leading to significant atomic disorder that causes the additional reduction of lattice thermal conductivity. The Ti1− xHfxNiSn1− ySby alloys containing inherent atomic-scale defect disorders are produced in one hour by a newly developed process of temperature-regulated rapid solidification followed by sintering. The collective atomic-scale defect disorder improves the zT to 1.09 ± 0.12 at 800 K for the Ti0.5Hf0.5NiSn0.98Sb0.02 alloy. These results provide a promising avenue for improving the TE performance of state-of-the-art materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1702091
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep 27

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
K.S.K., Y.-M.K. and H.M. contributed equally to this work. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant funded by the Korean Government (MSIP) (NRF-2015R1A5A1036133, NRF-2017R1A2B3011949).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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