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Processing and characterization of PbSnTe-based thermoelectric materials made by mechanical alloying
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Peter Dane Moran
The research reported in this dissertation investigates the processes required to mechanically alloy Pb1-xSnxTe and AgSbTe2 and a method of combining these two end compounds to result in (y)(AgSbTe2)–(1 - y)(Pb1-xSnxTe) thermoelectric materials for power generation applications. In general, traditional melt processing of these alloys has employed high purity materials that are subjected to time and energy intensive processes that result in highly functional material that is not easily reproducible. This research reports the development of mechanical alloying processes using commercially available 99.9% pure elemental powders in order to provide a basis for the economical production of highly functional thermoelectric materials.
Though there have been reports of high and low ZT materials fabricated by both melt alloying and mechanical alloying, the processing-structure-properties-performance relationship connecting how the material is made to its resulting functionality is poorly understood. This is particularly true for mechanically alloyed material, motivating an effort to investigate bulk material within the (y)(AgSbTe2)–(1 - y)(Pb1-xSnx- Te) system using the mechanical alloying method. This research adds to the body of knowledge concerning the way in which mechanical alloying can be used to efficiently produce high ZT thermoelectric materials.
The processes required to mechanically alloy elemental powders to form Pb1-xSnxTe and AgSbTe2 and to subsequently consolidate the alloyed powder is described. The composition, phases present in the alloy, volume percent, size and spacing of the phases are reported. The room temperature electronic transport properties of electrical conductivity, carrier concentration and carrier mobility are reported for each alloy and the effect of the presence of any secondary phase on the electronic transport properties is described. An mechanical mixing approach for incorporating the end compounds to result in (y)(AgSbTe2)–(1-y)(Pb1-xSnxTe) is described and when 5 vol.% AgSbTe2 was incorporated was found to form a solid solution with the Pb1-xSnxTe phase. An initial attempt to change the carrier concentration of the Pb1-xSnxTe phase was made by adding excess Te and found that the carrier density of the alloys in this work are not sensitive to excess Te. It has been demonstrated using the processing techniques reported in this research that this material system, when appropriately doped, has the potential to perform as highly functional thermoelectric material.
Lalonde, Aaron D., "Processing and characterization of PbSnTe-based thermoelectric materials made by mechanical alloying", Dissertation, Michigan Technological University, 2010.