The Effect of Crystal Mismatch on the Thermoelectric Performance Enhancement of Nano Cu2Se

Demirci Y., Yusuf A., Hamawandi B., Toprak M. S., Ballikaya S.

FRONTIERS IN MATERIALS, vol.7, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 7
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.3389/fmats.2020.581138
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


In the past decades, Cu2-x Se compounds have attracted great attention due to the inclusion of non-toxic and abundant elements, besides having a promising thermoelectric (TE) performance. In this work, we investigated the effect of a crystal mismatch of a nanoinclusion phase on the TE properties of Cu2-x Se. Nano-Cu2Se was synthesized using microwave assisted thermolysis, while the p-type skutterudite, Fe3.25Co0.75Sb12 (FeCoSb), compound was synthesized using a chemical alloying route. Nano-Cu2Se, and (nano-Cu2Se)(1-x )(nano-FeCoSb)( x ) composites, where x = 0.05 and 0.1, were prepared via mechanical alloying followed by Spark Plasma Sintering process. Structural properties were evaluated by PXRD and SEM analysis, while the high temperature transport properties were examined via electrical conductivity, Seebeck coefficient, and thermal conductivity measurements in the temperature range of 300-800 K. Powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) confirmed a single phase of nano Cu2Se, while the samples with FeCoSb inclusion consist of two phases as Cu2Se and CoSb3. SEM micrographs of all samples show that Cu2Se has randomly oriented grains with different sizes. Cu2Se samples with a FeCoSb inclusion show a rather different structure. In these samples, a rod-shaped FeCoSb phase, with a size varying between 20 and 100 nm, showed an inhomogeneous distribution in the structure and stacked between the Cu2Se layers. Transport data indicate that crystal mismatch between Cu2Se and FeCoSb has a strong effect on the TE transport properties. Electrical conductivity decreases but Seebeck coefficient enhances with nano FeCoSb inclusion. Total thermal conductivity was suppressed by 30% and ZT value enhanced by 15% with 5% nano FeCoSb inclusion at 750 K, likely due to a decrease in the electronic contribution of the thermal conductivity. Structural and transport data show that small amount of nanoinclusion of FeCoSb has a beneficial effect on the TE performance of nano Cu2Se at temperatures below 800 K.