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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2018 Feb 7;20(6):3979-3987. doi: 10.1039/c7cp07521a.

Impact of Nb vacancies and p-type doping of the NbCoSn-NbCoSb half-Heusler thermoelectrics.

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Institute of Chemical Sciences and Centre for Advanced Energy Storage and Recovery, School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK.


The half-Heuslers NbCoSn and NbCoSb have promising thermoelectric properties. Here, an investigation of the NbCo1+ySn1-zSbz (y = 0, 0.05; 0 ≤ z ≤ 1) solid-solution is presented. In addition, the p-type doping of NbCoSn using Ti and Zr substitution is investigated. Rietveld analysis reveals the gradual creation of Nb vacancies to compensate for the n-type doping caused by the substitution of Sb in NbCoSn. This leads to a similar valence electron count (∼18.25) for the NbCo1+ySn1-zSbz samples (z > 0). Mass fluctuation disorder due to the Nb vacancies strongly decreases the lattice thermal conductivity from 10 W m-1 K-1 (z = 0) to 4.5 W m-1 K-1 (z = 0.5, 1). This is accompanied by a transition to degenerate semiconducting behaviour leading to large power factors, S2/ρ = 2.5-3 mW m-1 K-2 and figures of merit, ZT = 0.25-0.33 at 773 K. Ti and Zr can be used to achieve positive Seebeck values, e.g. S = +150 μV K-1 for 20% Zr at 773 K. However, the electrical resistivity, ρ323K = 27-35 mΩ cm, remains too large for these materials to be considered useful p-type materials.


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