Enhanced thermoelectric performance in the zintl antimonides (Ca,RE)9Cd4Sb9 (RE = rare-earth metal). Synergy between increased structural complexity and drive towards optimized chemical bonding

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Materials Today Advances
The interplay of structural complexity, high carrier mobility, and high density of states effective mass can play a pivotal role in achieving enhanced thermoelectric (TE) performance in candidate materials. In this regard, the Zintl phases represent a class of compounds that are susceptible to harboring these key ingredients. This, in addition to their amenability to various forms of chemical substitution mechanisms makes them a good choice of systems to explore systematically. Here we demonstrate the role-play of these ingredients in achieving excellent TE properties on single-crystals of Ca9–xREyCd4+δSb9 (RE = Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Gd, Tb; x ≈ 0.5–0.8, y ≈ 0.5–0.7, δ ≈ 0.25). These phases represent a new addition to the “9–4–9” family with intricate chemical bonding arising from both a purposely introduced disorder on Ca sites and the inherent presence of interstitial Cd positions. Many of the newly synthesized and characterized phases show moderate values of the Seebeck coefficient, lying in the range of 71–116 μV/K at 600 K and evolving as degenerate semiconductors. Simultaneously, the electrical resistivity ρ(T) of the measured samples can be as low as 0.18 mΩ cm at this temperature. As a result, the observed TE power factors in the Ce-, Nd-, and Sm-samples are in the range 6–46 μW/cm.K2. For Ca9–xCexCd4+δSb9, the estimated thermoelectric quality factor B > 0.4 at 300 K, which corresponds to a figure of merit zT ≥ 1. Calculations based on the single parabolic band (SPB) model show that the optimum region for thermoelectric performance requires carrier concentration n = 2–6 × 1019 cm−3 thus providing for an open window to further tune the TE properties.
This article was originally published in Materials Today Advances. The version of record is available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mtadv.2022.100310
antimonides, Zintl phases, thermoelectrics
Ogunbunmi, M. O., S. Baranets, and S. Bobev. “Enhanced Thermoelectric Performance in the Zintl Antimonides (Ca,RE)9Cd4Sb9 (RE = Rare-Earth Metal). Synergy between Increased Structural Complexity and Drive towards Optimized Chemical Bonding.” Materials Today Advances 16 (2022): 100310. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mtadv.2022.100310.