Structure and Thermoelectric Properties of Spark Plasma Sintered Ultrathin PbTe Nanowires

Scott W. Finefrock, Purdue University
Genqiang Zhang, Purdue University
Je-Hyeong Bahk, Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center
Haoran Yang, Purdue University
Ali Shakouri, University of California - Santa Cruz; Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Yue Wu, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

Date of this Version



Solution-synthesized thermoelectric nanostructured materials have the potential to have lower cost and higher performance than materials synthesized by solid-state methods. Herein we present the synthesis of ultrathin PbTe nanowires, which are compressed by spark plasma sintering at various temperatures in the range of 405-500 degrees C. The resulting discs possess grains with sizes of 5-30 mu m as well as grains with sizes on the order of the original 12 nm diameter PbTe nanowires. This micro- and nanostructure leads to a significantly reduced thermal conductivity compared to bulk PbTe. Careful electron transport analysis shows suppressed electrical conductivity due to increased short-range and ionized defect scatterings, while the Seebeck coefficient remains comparable to the bulk value. The PbTe nanowire samples are found unintentionally p-type doped to hole concentrations of 2.16-2.59 x 10(18) cm(-3). The maximum figure of merit achieved in the unintentionally doped spark plasma sintered PbTe nanowires is 0.33 at 350 K, which is among the highest reported for unintentionally doped PbTe at low temperatures.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology