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Nanoscale Phenomena in Energy Materials

(Supported by DOE-BES, NSF-MRSEC, SRC, Intel, NSF-MRI, ANL)

Studying structure-property relationships in advanced materials is one of the fundamental cornerstones of Materials Science and Engineering. The properties of multifunctional materials and the phenomena observed in such systems are inextricably linked to their complex interfacial and defect structures. As such, developing new materials systems and devices demands a profound understanding of the interfaces and defects in the material, whether intrinsic or engineered.

The VPD group focuses on extensively analyzing the intricate interface and defect structures in materials systems of interest by utilizing advanced electron microscopy, scanning probe and synchrotron x-ray scattering techniques.  Our goal is to develop knowledge of not only static structural features, but to also monitor the dynamics of interfacial and defect phenomena using in-situ characterization techniques, and measure their localized and bulk properties. Most recently, this approach has been applied primarily to materials used for energy generation and energy storage, namely thermoelectric materials and Li-ion battery electrode materials. Thermoelectric materials convert heat into electricity, making them a promising technology for recovering energy from waste heat.

In other work, we innovatively designed endotaxial CdSe nano-precipitates with core-shell architecture formed in PbSe. The nano-precipitates exhibit a zinc blende crystal structure and a tetrahedral shape with significant local strain, but are covered with a thin wurtzite layer along the precipitate/matrix interface. This newly discovered architecture causes significant reduction in lattice thermal conductivity. 

As a result, we report a ZTave B 0.83 across the 400–923 K temperature range, the highest reported for p-type, Te-free PbSe systems.   The VPD group, working with collaborators in the Kanatzidis (Chemistry) and Wolverton (MSE) groups, has shown that engineering materials with an all-scale hierarchical structure is an extremely effective approach for improving thermoelectric performance.

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Representative Publications:

  • Grovogui, J. A., Slade, T. J., Hao, S., Wolverton, C., Kanatzidis, M. G., & Dravid, V. P. (2021). Implications of doping on microstructure, processing, and thermoelectric performance: The case of PbSe. Journal of Materials Research, 36(6), 1272-1284. doi:10.1557/s43578-021-00130-8
  • Cai, S., Hao, S., Luo, Y., Su, X., Luo, Z.-Z., Hu, X., . . . Kanatzidis, M. G. (2020). Ultralow Thermal Conductivity and Thermoelectric Properties of Rb2Bi8Se13. Chemistry of Materials, 32(8), 3561-3569. doi:10.1021/acs.chemmater.0c00703
  • Cai, S., Hao, S., Luo, Z.-Z., Li, X., Hadar, I., Bailey, T. P., . . . Kanatzidis, M. G. (2020). Discordant nature of Cd in PbSe: off-centering and core–shell nanoscale CdSe precipitates lead to high thermoelectric performance. Energy & Environmental Science, 13(1), 200-211. doi:10.1039/c9ee03087e
  • Luo, Z.-Z., Cai, S., Hao, S., Bailey, T. P., Su, X., Spanopoulos, I., . . . Kanatzidis, M. G. (2019). High Figure of Merit in Gallium-Doped Nanostructured n-Type PbTe-xGeTe with Midgap States. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 141(40), 16169-16177. doi:10.1021/jacs.9b09249
  • Zhang, X., Hao, S., Tan, G., Hu, X., Roth, E. W., Kanatzidis, M. G., . . . Dravid, V. P. (2019). Ion Beam Induced Artifacts in Lead-Based Chalcogenides. Microscopy and Microanalysis, 25(4), 831-839. doi:10.1017/s1431927619000503
  • Tyler Slade, Jann Grovogui, Shiqiang Hao, Trevor Bailey, Runchu Ma,  Xia Hua, Aurélie Guéguen,  Ctirad Uher, Chris Wolverton,  Vinayak Dravid,  Mercouri Kanatzidis, Absence of Nanostructuring in NaPbmSbTem+2: Solid Solutions with High Thermoelectric Performance in the Intermediate Temperature Regime, Journal of the American Chemical Society,  (2018). DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b04193
  • Gangjian Tan, Fengyuan Shi, Shiqiang Hao, Li-Dong Zhao, Hang Chi, Xiaomi Zhang, Ctirad Uher, Chris Wolverton, Vinayak P. Dravid & Mercouri G. Kanatzidis. Non-equilibrium processing leads to record high thermoelectric figure of merit in PbTe-SrTe. Nature Communications7:12167, (2016)DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12167
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