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In this paper we describe a new attempt of high-throughput screening of thermoelectric materials by combining the use of the “bulk composition-spread (CS)” or “bulk diffusion multiples (DM)” and the “scanning thermal probe microanalyzer (STPM).” The (Bi2Te3)1-x(Sb2Te3)x (0<x<1) and Ni1-xCux (0<x<1) bulk CS samples were prepared by conventional powder metallurgy method by using mechanical alloying and spark plasma sintering process. The Ni-Cu-X (X=Sn, In, Bi.) DM sample was prepared by post-heating of the CS samples in a molten metal. The two dimensional distributions of Seebeck coefficient and the thermal conductivity of the cross section of the CS and DM samples which composed of graded composition were visualized by using STPM at room temperature. The composition variation was checked by EDX. The relationship between composition and the thermoelectric properties was successfully determined by using the mapping results. The time required for mapping out the 100x100 pixel image was 8 to 11 hours. The total time required for this set of the screening experiment, from sample preparation to the final conclusion, was within 24 hours. For samples Ni-Cu-X DM the diffusion length of the elements at the interface can be large as 1mm and it was found that STPM is applicable to visualize the thermoelectric properties at the region of interest.
The thermoelectric properties of Ni1-xCux (0<x<1) alloy are measured from 323K to 950K. The sample with optimized composition, Ni70Cu30 is found to possess large power factor value of 0.012 Wm−1K−2 at around 950K. Estimated figure of merit value ZT is 0.21 for Ni50Cu50 and 0.18 for Ni70Cu30 at the same temperature. A novel attempt of high-throughput parallel synthesis using multiple-wells is carried out to test the feasibility of combinatorial approach in this material system. The Seebeck coefficient is visualized over the multiple-wells combinatorial library and the other Ni-Cu composition-spread, and it is proved that further enhancement of throughput could be possible by conducting systematic experiments based on the combinatorial approaches performed in this study.
Bi2Te3-based thin films were fabricated on glass substrates by the pulsed laser deposition (PLD) method. The vapor pressures of Bi and Te are significantly different, so controlling the stoichiometric composition is difficult when using conventional physical vapor deposition techniques, and the thermoelectric properties of Bi2Te3 films are sensitive to the film composition. PLD is a promising technique for the fabrication of telluride-based films such as Bi2Te3 due to its superior capability for controlling the film composition. Another advantage of PLD is the flexibility that it allows in terms of atmosphere in the reaction chamber; high concentrations of gases such as oxygen or argon can be introduced. We have measured various compositions of Bi2Te3 based films, and have identified the optimal compositions for both n-type and p-type material. The thermal conductivities of these Bi2Te3 films were evaluated by an exact measuring system, and the results were twice as low as those of conventional bulk materials. These results suggest that PLD has significant advantages for the deposition of in-plane Bi2Te3-based thin films.
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