A comprehensive understanding of the nano-structural effects that cause reduction in thermal conductivity represents important challenges for the development of thermoelectric materials with an improved figure of merit ZT. Bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3)-based thermoelectric materials exhibit very low levels of thermal conductivity. In this study, a Te crystal-embedded Bi2Te3 (Te–Bi2Te3) thin film was formed by establishing a specific annealing temperature for a Te-rich Bi/Te multilayered structure. Modulations in structure and composition were observed at the boundaries between the two phases of Te and Bi2Te3. Furthermore, the samples contained regularly shaped nanometer-scale Bi2Te3 single grains. Therefore, we obtained a dramatic ZT value of 2.27 (+ 0.04, − 0.08) at 375 K from the Te–Bi2Te3 thin film. Finally, we confirmed that interface phonon scattering between the Te–Bi2Te3 boundaries plays an important role in inter-grain phonon transport, which results in a reduction in the lattice thermal conductivity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Materials Science(all)
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering