Nanostructured Co1-xNixSb3 skutterudites: Synthesis, thermoelectric properties, and theoretical modeling
2003 (English)In: Journal of Applied Physics, ISSN 0021-8979, E-ISSN 1089-7550, Vol. 93, no 1, 438-447 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Nanostructured skutterudite Co1-xNixSb3 has been synthesized by chemical alloying with Ni substitution for Co up to 27.5 at. %. High concentration of grain boundaries provided by nanostructuring is expected to lower the thermal conductivity of thermoelectric materials and could thus increase their thermoelectric dimensionless figure-of-merit ZT. Material preparation comprises two key stages, coprecipitation of the precursor, and thermal processing to produce the skutterudite. By modeling the chemistry of the metal ions in aqueous solution, optimum coprecipitation conditions were achieved. The precipitated precursor consists of a solid solution of the different intermediate compounds, and exhibits high reactivity. Calcination and reduction of the precursor resulted in the alloying of these elements and in the formation of skutterudite at a temperature as low as 723-773 K. Unfilled CoSb3 skutterudites were prepared by chemical precipitation from aqueous solutions to achieve powders with a very small grain size (similar to40 nm). Compacted samples were produced from this powder by uniaxial pressing under various conditions. Thermal conductivity, electrical resistivity and Seebeck coefficient of the resulting compacts were measured in a temperature range from 150 to 575 K. Measurement procedures were standardized for absolute accuracy and reproducibility between the DLR, Cologne and NEDO, Cardiff Laboratories. It was found that the thermal conductivity can be decreased by almost an order of magnitude at the highest concentration of grain boundaries compared to highly annealed CoSb3. Scanning Seebeck microthermoprobe examination, facilitated spatially resolved measurement of Seebeck coefficient S, providing information on samples' homogeneity and on its effect on local S. Indications on the formation of an additional Ni containing phase were found. The electronic structure of Ni-doped skutterudites has been investigated by means of fully periodic density functional theory calculations and a topological analysis of the resulting electron densities. Ni substitution for Co doubles the electronic charge transfer from the pnicogen ring to the metal frame and fills the region of the CoSb3 band gap with occupied states, thus explaining the increase of electrical conductivity observed experimentally. The effect of the Ni substitution on the thermal conductivity is analyzed. The computed changes of the cell parameter with rising Ni content differ with those found by x-ray powder diffraction, thereby suggesting that the structural hypothesis of Ni replacing Co in the cubic frame of the skutterudite is only approximate or possibly incorrect.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 93, no 1, 438-447 p.
effective core potentials, molecular calculations, cosb3, coprecipitation
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-22136DOI: 10.1063/1.1529077ISI: 000180002500069OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-22136DiVA: diva2:340834
QC 201005252010-08-102010-08-10Bibliographically approved