in pages advanced energy materials In 2007, the results of research by scientists from the German Max Planck Society appeared, who, in collaboration with American experts, looked at the specificity of grain boundaries in thermoelectric materials. These areas have been found to suffer unwanted losses in electrical conductivity, which affects the overall performance of the materials.
As we know, many thermoelectric materials use complex microstructures. The researchers have been working on this. At grain boundaries, where the thermal conductivity of thermoelectrics is intentionally lowered, electrical resistance also appears unexpectedly. So they enriched these areas with titanium additives.
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The scientists worked on compounds (alloys) of the so-called Heusler half NbFeSb. These are MgAgAs-type structures that crystallize in a face-centered cubic arrangement. Heusler phases are attracting the world’s attention because of their physical properties that are worth exploiting from an application point of view. In this example, titanium doping was performed by scanning transmission electron microscopy and atomic probe tomography. As Dr Suyuan Zhang, project leader and corresponding co-author of the research paper said:
By doping the alloy with titanium, we found that the grain boundaries become titanium-rich and stop resisting. This allows us to take full advantage of the beneficial low thermal conductivity offered by the micrograins.
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The researchers believe their work will bring another major improvement in thermoelectric technology, which already plays an important role in a sustainable economy. Harnessing heat and converting it into electricity will receive increasing attention. We are not just talking about waste heat (for example from industrial processes), but about general thermal management in many sectors.
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