High-entropy-stabilized chalcogenides with high thermoelectric performance

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Science  19 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6531, pp. 830-834
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe1292

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Distorted thermal properties

Thermoelectric devices can convert waste heat into electricity, providing one path for improving energy efficiency. Jiang et al. leveraged entropy engineering to synthesize a single-phase high-entropy alloy with attractive thermoelectric properties. By increasing the number of elements in the alloy, the resulting disorder helps to stabilize against breakdown into multiple phases. The disordered and distorted crystal lattice suppresses thermal transport while maintaining the electrical properties, which boosts the heat-conversion efficiency of the material.

Science, this issue p. 830


Thermoelectric technology generates electricity from waste heat, but one bottleneck for wider use is the performance of thermoelectric materials. Manipulating the configurational entropy of a material by introducing different atomic species can tune phase composition and extend the performance optimization space. We enhanced the figure of merit (zT) value to 1.8 at 900 kelvin in an n-type PbSe-based high-entropy material formed by entropy-driven structural stabilization. The largely distorted lattices in this high-entropy system caused unusual shear strains, which provided strong phonon scattering to largely lower lattice thermal conductivity. The thermoelectric conversion efficiency was 12.3% at temperature difference ΔT = 507 kelvin, for the fabricated segmented module based on this n-type high-entropy material. Our demonstration provides a paradigm to improve thermoelectric performance for high-entropy thermoelectric materials through entropy engineering.

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