Optimization of the Thermoelectric Figure of Merit of Fine-Grained Semiconductor Materials Based upon Lead Telluride.
Final technical rept. 31 Aug 84-30 Mar 86,
UNIVERSITY OF WALES INST OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CARDIFF*
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Lead telluride type semiconductors are used in the fabrication of thermoelectric modules. This report covers the programme to produce materials based upon lead telluride with improved figures of merit and hence greater thermoelectric conversion efficiency. One way of improving the figure of merit is by reducing the lattice thermal conductivity of the material. This can be achieved by increasing phonon grain boundary scattering. A realistic theoretical model has been developed for lead telluride and used to investigate the lattice thermal conductivity as a function of grain size and level of doping. In optimally doped material with a grain size of 1 micrometer, the reduction in lattice thermal conductivity was predicted to be 4-6 percent compared with equivalent single crystal. Thermal diffusivity measurements on small grained compacts supported this prediction. Phonon grain boundary scattering is enhanced in semiconductor alloys because of the presence of disorder scattering and the theoretical model was extended to take this factor into account. PbSnTe and PbGeTe were identified as alloys whose lattice thermal conductivity could be significantly decreased by a reduction in grain size and in optimally doped compacted material with a grain size of 0.5 micrometer the reduction compared to equivalent single crystal material was estimated to be 11 and 14 percent respectively.
- Electric Power Production and Distribution
- Solid State Physics