Research ArticleMATERIALS SCIENCE

Realizing a 14% single-leg thermoelectric efficiency in GeTe alloys

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Science Advances  07 May 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 19, eabf2738
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf2738

Abstract

GeTe alloys have recently attracted wide attention as efficient thermoelectrics. In this work, a single-leg thermoelectric device with a conversion efficiency as high as 14% under a temperature gradient of 440 K was fabricated on the basis of GeTe-Cu2Te-PbSe alloys, which show a peak thermoelectric figure of merit (zT) > 2.5 and an average zT of 1.8 within working temperatures. The high performance of the material is electronically attributed to the carrier concentration optimization and thermally due to the strengthened phonon scattering, the effects of which all originate from the defects in the alloys. A design of Ag/SnTe/GeTe contact successfully enables both a prevention of chemical diffusion and an interfacial contact resistivity of 8 microhm·cm2 for the realization of highly efficient devices with a good service stability/durability. Not only the material’s high performance but also the device’s high efficiency demonstrated the extraordinariness of GeTe alloys for efficient thermoelectric waste-heat recovery.

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