A tellurium evaporation annealing method has been investigated to control the carrier concentration of sintered (Bi,Sb)2Te3 compounds. Hot-pressed (Bi,Sb)2Te3 bulk alloys and tellurium powders located in an evacuated ampoule, were heated to 673 K and held for 3, 12 and 48 h. The crystal structure and chemical composition in the annealed specimens were preserved, while the carrier concentrations were varied between 1.53 × 1019 and 2.57 × 1019 cm -3, and the thermal conductivity at 300 K ranged between 1.20 and 1.25 W m-1 K-1. The figure of merit at 300 K was enhanced from 0.86 to 1.06 when the specimens were annealed for 3 h. To identify the underlying mechanism, we utilized ab initio density functional theory calculations. These computations indicated that a Te ad-layer on top of the Bi2Te3 energetically favors bulk Bi atoms to migrate to the surface. Our experimental measurements and the first-principles validations consistently indicate that the tellurium evaporation annealing method is a novel process for enhancing the thermoelectric performance of Bi-Te compounds by controlling their carrier concentrations, which is particularly useful in dealing with nano-scale composites.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Metals and Alloys
- Materials Chemistry