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We address the issue of decreasing band-gap with increasing atomic number, inherent in semiconducting materials, by introducing a concept we call dimensional reduction. The concept leads to semiconductor compounds containing high atomic number elements and simultaneously exhibiting a large band gap and high mass density suggesting that dimensional reduction can be successfully employed in developing new γ-ray detecting materials. As an example we discuss the compound Cs2Hg6S7 that exhibits a band-gap of 1.65eV and mobility-lifetime products comparable to those of optimized Cd0.9Zn0.1Te.
We report the physical characterization and thermoelectric properties of (Pb0.95Sn0.05Te)0.92(PbS)0.08 containing excess Pb and Sb prepared using the matrix encapsulation technique. Samples of (Pb0.95Sn0.05Te)0.92(PbS)0.08 : Pb 0.5 - 4 at. % rapidly quenched from the melt show microscale Pb inclusions that increase the thermal conductivity while slightly increasing the power factor, compared to (Pb0.95Sn0.05Te)0.92(PbS)0.08. Samples of (Pb0.95Sn0.05Te)0.92(PbS)0.08 : Pb 0.5%, Sb 2% prepared using the same technique show microscale Sb and Pb inclusions that upon heating cause rapid PbS and Sb segregation from the PbTe matrix. This behavior significantly alters the microstructure and degrades the transport properties of the material.
High efficiency thermoelectric modules are of great interest for power generation applications where hot side temperatures of approximately 800K exist. The fabrication of such modules requires a multidisciplinary effort for the optimization of the material compositions, the engineering of the module systems, modeling and fabrication of the devices, and constant feedback from characterization. Pb-Sb-Ag-Te (LAST) and Pb-Sb-Ag-Sn-Te (LASTT) compounds are among the best known materials for this temperature range. Modeling of these materials and possible cascaded structures shows efficiencies of 14% can be achieved for low resistance contacts. Using antimony we have achieved contact resistivities less than 20 µΩ·cm2. Here we give a detailed presentation on the procedures used in the fabrication of thermoelectric generators based on these new materials. We also present the characterization systems and measurements on these generators.
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