Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Transmission electron microscopy study of Pb-depleted disks in PbTe-based alloys

  • Hengzhi Wang (a1), Qinyong Zhang (a1), Bo Yu (a1), Hui Wang (a1), Weishu Liu (a1), Gang Chen (a2) and Zhifeng Ren (a3)...

Even though the crystal structure of lead telluride (PbTe) has been extensively studied for many years, we discovered that the structure has a strong tendency to form Pb-depleted disks on {001} planes. These disks are around 2–5 nm in diameter and less than 0.5 nm in thickness, with a volume density of around 9 × 1017 cm−3, resulting in lattice strain fields (3–20 nm) on both sides of the disks along their normal directions. Moreover, such disks were also observed in Pb-rich Pb1.3Te, Pb-deficient PbTe1.3, and thallium (Tl)-doped Tl0.01Pb0.99Te and Tl0.02Pb0.98Te crystals. Because of the effects of diffraction contrast imaging by transmission electron microscopy and orientations of the crystals, these native lattice strain fields were incorrectly recognized as precipitates or nanoinclusions in PbTe-based materials. This discovery provides new insight into the formation mechanism of the precipitates or nanoinclusions in PbTe-based materials.

Corresponding author
a)Address all correspondence to these authors. e-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1.D. Greig : Thermoelectricity and thermal conductivity in the lead sulfide group of semiconductors. Phys. Rev. 120, 358 (1960).

2.H.A. Lyden : Temperature dependence of the effective masses in PbTe. Phys. Rev. 135, A514 (1964).

3.G.J. Snyder and E.S. Toberer : Complex thermoelectric materials. Nat. Mater. 7, 105 (2008).

4.M.G. Kanatzidis : Nanostructured thermoelectrics: The new paradigm? Chem. Mater. 22, 648 (2010).

5.K.F. Hsu , S. Loo , F. Guo , W. Chen , J.S. Dyck , C. Uher , T. Hogan , E.K. Polychroniadis , and M.G. Kanatzidis : Cubic AgPbmSbTe2+m: Bulk thermoelectric materials with high figure of merit. Science 303, 818 (2004).

6.P.F.P. Poudeu , J.D. Angelo , A.D. Downey , J.L. Short , T.P. Hogan , and M.G. Kanatzidis : High thermoelectric figure of merit and nanostructuring in bulk p-type Na1-xPbmSbyTem+2. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 45, 3835 (2006).

7.M. Zhou , J.-F. Li , and T. Kita : Nanostructured AgPbmSbTem+2 system bulk materials with enhanced thermoelectric performance. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130, 4527 (2008).

8.M. Muhlberg and D. Hesse : TEM precipitation studies in Te-rich as-grown PbTe single crystals. Phys. Status Solidi A Appl. Res. 76, 513 (1983).

9.W.W. Scanlon : Precipitation of Te and Pb in PbTe crystals. Phys. Rev. 126, 509 (1962).

11.H. Wang , J.-F. Li , and T. Kita : Thermoelectric enhancement at low temperature in nonstoichiometric lead-telluride compounds. J. Phys. D Appl. Phys. 40, 6839 (2007).

12.G. Bauer , H. Burkhard , H. Heinrich , and A. Lopez-Otero : Impurity and vacancy states in PbTe. J. Appl. Phys. 47, 1721 (1976).

13.X.Z. Ke , C.F. Chen , J.H. Yang , L.J. Wu , J. Zhou , Q. Li , Y.M. Zhu , and P.R.C. Kent : Microstructure and a nucleation mechanism for nanoprecipitates in PbTe-AgSbTe2. Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 145502 (2009).

14.M.S. Dresselhaus , G. Chen , M.Y. Tang , R.G. Yang , H. Lee , D.Z. Wang , Z.F. Ren , J.-P. Fleurial , and P. Gogna : New directions for low-dimensional thermoelectric materials. Adv. Mater. 19, 1043 (2007).

15.B. Poudel , Q. Hao , Y. Ma , Y.C. Lan , A. Minnich , B. Yu , X. Yan , D.Z. Wang , A. Muto , D. Vashaee , X.Y. Chen , J.M. Liu , M.S. Dresselhaus , G. Chen , and Z.F. Ren : High-thermoelectric performance of nanostructured bismuth antimony telluride bulk alloys. Science 320, 634 (2008).

16.X.W. Wang , H. Lee , Y.C. Lan , G.H. Zhu , G. Joshi , D.Z. Wang , J. Yang , A.J. Muto , M.Y. Tang , J. Klatsky , S. Song , M.S. Dresselhaus , G. Chen , and Z.F. Ren : Enhanced thermoelectric figure of merit in nanostructured n-type silicon germanium bulk alloy. Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 193121 (2008).

18.M.P. Gomez , D.A. Stevenson , and R.A. Huggins : Self-diffusion of Pb and Te in lead telluride. J. Phys. Chem. Solids. 32, 335 (1971).

19.T.D. George and J.B. Wagner : Tracer diffusion of lead in lead telluride. J. Appl. Phys. 42, 220 (1971).

20.S.J. Pennycook : Atomic-scale imaging of materials by Z-contrast scanning transmission electron microscopy. Anal. Chem. 64(4), 263 (1992).

21.J.P. Heremans , V. Jovovic , E.S. Toberer , A. Saramat , K. Kurosaki , A. Charoenphakdee , S. Yamanaka , and G.J. Snyder : Enhancement of thermoelectric efficiency in PbTe by distortion of the electronic density of states. Science. 321, 554 (2008).

22.J.Q. He , A. Gueguen , J.R. Sootsman , J.-C. Zheng , L.J. Wu , Y.M. Zhu , M.G. Kanatzidis , and V.P. Dravid : Role of self-organization, nanostructuring, and lattice strain on phonon transport in NaPb18-xSnxBiTe20 thermoelectric materials. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 131, 17828 (2009).

23.B.A. Cook , M.J. Kramer , J.L. Harringa , M.-K. Han , D.Y. Chung , and M.G. Kanatzidis : Analysis of nanostructuring in high figure-of-merit Ag1-xPbmSbTe2+m thermoelectric materials. Adv. Funct. Mater. 19, 1254 (2009).

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Materials Research
  • ISSN: 0884-2914
  • EISSN: 2044-5326
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-materials-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *