Latest nanotechnology concepts applied in thermoelectric (TE) research have opened many new avenues to improve the ZT value. Low dimensional structures can improve the ZT value as compared to bulk materials by substantial reduction in the lattice thermal conductivity, κL. However, the materials were not feasible for the industrial scale production of macroscopic devices because of complicated and costly manufacturing processes involved. Bulk nanostructured (NS) TEs are normally fabricated using a bulk process rather than a nano-fabrication process, which has the important advantage of producing in large quantities and in a form that is compatible with commercially available TE devices.
We developed fabrication strategies for bulk nanostructured skutterudite materials based on FexCo1-xSb3. The process is based on precipitation of a precursor material with the desired metal atom composition, which is then exposed to thermochemical processing of calcination followed by reduction. The resultant material thus formed maintains nanostructured particles which are then compacted using Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) by utilizing previously optimized process parameters. Microstructure, crystallinity, phase composition, thermal stability and temperature dependent transport property evaluation has been performed for compacted NS FexCo1-xSb3. Evaluation results are presented in detail, suggesting the feasibility of devised strategy for bulk quantities of doped TE nanopowder fabrication.