ZnO is a promising thermoelectric (TE) material for high-temperature applications; however, its TE performance is limited by strong coupling between electrical and thermal transport. In this study, we synthesized Al and Ti co-doped ZnO by a solid-state reaction and air sintering at 1500 °C and analyzed the microstructure to establish its correlation with TE properties. The TE transport properties were measured between room temperature and 800 °C, and electronic properties were calculated from first principles calculations. Herein, we introduced second and third phases into a ZnO-based matrix to enhance its power factor (PF) by charge carrier energy filtering by applying co-doping with Al and Ti. Although multiphase materials usually do not exhibit high PF, in this study, it is observed that three-phase ZnO-based materials exhibit higher PF values compared to the two-phase materials. We observed unusual behavior, in which the Seebeck coefficient (S) and electrical conductivity (σ) values increased simultaneously with temperature for Zn1-x-yAlxTiyO, originating from energy filtering of charge carriers due to both co-doping and the peculiar multiphase structure. High σ values were associated with the increase of electron concentration, while high S values were due to Fermi energy tuning and heavier effective masses initiated by Al and Ti co-doping. Besides increasing the PF, the multiphase structure played an essential role in reducing lattice thermal conductivity due to phonon scattering by the Umklapp, point defect, and second-phase mechanisms. Our approach yielded an increase of the TE figure of merit upon formation of a three-phase 2 wt % Ti-doped Zn0.98Al0.02O compound of ca. 10 times compared to the corresponding value attained for its two-phase ZnAl0.02O counterpart.
- charge carrier energy filtering
- electron and phonon transport
- multiphase oxides
- thermoelectric materials
- zinc oxide
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)