Advanced Functional Materials, Vol.26, No.37, 6836-6845, 2016
Understanding of the Extremely Low Thermal Conductivity in High-Performance Polycrystalline SnSe through Potassium Doping
P-type polycrystalline SnSe and K0.01Sn0.99Se are prepared by combining mechanical alloying (MA) and spark plasma sintering (SPS). The highest ZT of approximate to 0.65 is obtained at 773 K for undoped SnSe by optimizing the MA time. To enhance the electrical transport properties of SnSe, K is selected as an effective dopant. It is found that the maximal power factor can be enhanced signifi cantly from approximate to 280 mu W m(-1) K-2 for undoped SnSe to approximate to 350 mu W m(-1) K-2 for K-doped SnSe. It is also observed that the thermal conductivity of polycrystalline SnSe can be enhanced if the SnSe powders are slightly oxidized. Surprisingly, after K doping, the absence of Sn oxides at grain boundaries and the presence of coherent nanoprecipitates in the SnSe matrix contribute to an impressively low lattice thermal conductivity of approximate to 0.20 W m(-1) K-1 at 773 K along the sample section perpendicular to pressing direction of SPS. This extremely low lattice thermal conductivity coupled with the enhanced power factor results in a record high ZT of approximate to 1.1 at 773 K along this direction in polycrystalline SnSe.