Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.141, No.20, 8025-8029, 2019
Ligand-Mediated Band Engineering in Bottom-Up Assembled SnTe Nanocomposites for Thermoelectric Energy Conversion
The bottom-up assembly of colloidal nanocrystals is a versatile methodology to produce composite nanomaterials with precisely tuned electronic properties. Beyond the synthetic control over crystal domain size, shape, crystal phase, and composition, solution-processed nanocrystals allow exquisite surface engineering. This provides additional means to modulate the nanomaterial characteristics and particularly its electronic transport properties. For instance, inorganic surface ligands can be used to tune the type and concentration of majority carriers or to modify the electronic band structure. Herein, we report the thermoelectric properties of SnTe nanocomposites obtained from the consolidation of surface-engineered SnTe nanocrystals into macroscopic pellets. A CdSe-based ligand is selected to (i) converge the light and heavy bands through partial Cd alloying and (ii) generate CdSe nanoinclusions as a secondary phase within the SnTe matrix, thereby reducing the thermal conductivity. These SnTe-CdSe nanocomposites possess thermoelectric figures of merit of up to 1.3 at 850 K, which is, to the best of our knowledge, the highest thermoelectric figure of merit reported for solution-processed SnTe.