Composite materials offer numerous advantages in a wide range of applications, including thermoelectrics. Here, semiconductor–metal composites are produced by just blending nanoparticles of a sulfide semiconductor obtained in aqueous solution and at room temperature with a metallic Cu powder. The obtained blend is annealed in a reducing atmosphere and afterward consolidated into dense polycrystalline pellets through spark plasma sintering (SPS). We observe that, during the annealing process, the presence of metallic copper activates a partial reduction of the PbS, resulting in the formation of PbS–Pb–CuxS composites. The presence of metallic lead during the SPS process habilitates the liquid-phase sintering of the composite. Besides, by comparing the transport properties of PbS, the PbS–Pb–CuxS composites, and PbS–CuxS composites obtained by blending PbS and CuxS nanoparticles, we demonstrate that the presence of metallic lead decisively contributes to a strong increase of the charge carrier concentration through spillover of charge carriers enabled by the low work function of lead. The increase in charge carrier concentration translates into much higher electrical conductivities and moderately lower Seebeck coefficients. These properties translate into power factors up to 2.1 mW m–1 K–2 at ambient temperature, well above those of PbS and PbS + CuxS. Additionally, the presence of multiple phases in the final composite results in a notable decrease in the lattice thermal conductivity. Overall, the introduction of metallic copper in the initial blend results in a significant improvement of the thermoelectric performance of PbS, reaching a dimensionless thermoelectric figure of merit ZT = 1.1 at 750 K, which represents about a 400% increase over bare PbS. Besides, an average ZTave = 0.72 in the temperature range 320–773 K is demonstrated.
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
This work was supported by the European Regional Development Funds. M.L., Y.Z., X.H., and K.X. thank the China Scholarship Council for scholarship support. M. I. has been financially supported by IST Austria and the Werner Siemens Foundation. Y.L. acknowledges funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754411. J.L. is a Serra Húnter fellow and is grateful to ICREA Academia program and projects MICINN/FEDER RTI2018-093996-B-C31 and GC 2017 SGR 128. ICN2 acknowledges funding from Generalitat de Catalunya 2017 SGR 327 and the Spanish MINECO project NANOGEN (PID2020-116093RB-C43). ICN2 was supported by the Severo Ochoa program from Spanish MINECO (grant no. SEV-2017-0706) and was funded by the CERCA Programme/Generalitat de Catalunya. X.H. thanks China Scholarship Council for scholarship support (201804910551). Part of the present work was performed in the framework of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Materials Science Ph.D. program.
Li M, Liu Y, Zhang Y, et al. PbS–Pb–CuxS composites for thermoelectric application. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 2021;13(43):51373–51382. doi:10.1021/acsami.1c15609
Li, M., Liu, Y., Zhang, Y., Han, X., Xiao, K., Nabahat, M., … Cabot, A. (2021). PbS–Pb–CuxS composites for thermoelectric application. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. American Chemical Society . https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.1c15609
Li, Mengyao, Yu Liu, Yu Zhang, Xu Han, Ke Xiao, Mehran Nabahat, Jordi Arbiol, Jordi Llorca, Maria Ibáñez, and Andreu Cabot. “PbS–Pb–CuxS Composites for Thermoelectric Application.” ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. American Chemical Society , 2021. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.1c15609.
M. Li et al., “PbS–Pb–CuxS composites for thermoelectric application,” ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, vol. 13, no. 43. American Chemical Society , pp. 51373–51382, 2021.
Li M, Liu Y, Zhang Y, Han X, Xiao K, Nabahat M, Arbiol J, Llorca J, Ibáñez M, Cabot A. 2021. PbS–Pb–CuxS composites for thermoelectric application. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 13(43), 51373–51382.
Li, Mengyao, et al. “PbS–Pb–CuxS Composites for Thermoelectric Application.” ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, vol. 13, no. 43, American Chemical Society , 2021, pp. 51373–51382, doi:10.1021/acsami.1c15609.