• Jarwal, B.; Abbas, S.; Chou, T.-L.; Vailyaveettil, S.M.; Kumar, A.; Quadir, S.; Ho, T.-T.; Wong, D.P.; Chen, L.-C.; Chen, K.-H.: Boosting Thermoelectric Performance in Nanocrystalline Ternary Skutterudite Thin Films through Metallic CoTe2 Integration. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 16 (2024), p. 14770–14780

Open Access Version

Metal-semiconductor nanocomposites have emerged as a viable strategy for concurrently tailoring both thermal and electronic transport properties of established thermoelectric materials, ultimately achieving synergistic performance. In this investigation, a series of nanocomposite thin films were synthesized, embedding metallic cobalt telluride (CoTe2) nanophase within the nanocrystalline ternary skutterudite (Co(Ge1.22Sb0.22)Te1.58 or CGST) matrix. Our approach harnessed composition fluctuation-induced phase separation and in situ growth during thermal annealing to seamlessly integrate the metallic phase. The distinctive band structures of both materials have developed an ohmic-type contact characteristic at the interface, which raised carrier density considerably yet negligibly affected the mobility counterpart, leading to a substantial improvement in electrical conductivity. The intricate balance in transport properties is further influenced by the metallic CoTe2 phase’s role in diminishing lattice thermal conductivity. The presence of the metallic phase instigates enhanced phonon scattering at the interface boundaries. Consequently, a 2-fold enhancement in the thermoelectric figure of merit (zT ∼ 1.30) is attained with CGST-7 wt. % CoTe2 nanocomposite film at 655 K compared to that of pristine CGST.