Precision Interface Engineering of an Atomic Layer in Bulk Bi2Te3 Alloys for High Thermoelectric Performance

Kwang Chon Kim, Sang Soon Lim, Seung Hwan Lee, Junpyo Hong, Deok Yong Cho, Ahmed Yousef Mohamed, Chong Min Koo, Seung Hyub Baek, Jin Sang Kim, Seong Keun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Grafting nanotechnology on thermoelectric materials leads to significant advances in their performance. Creation of structural defects including nano-inclusion and interfaces via nanostructuring achieves higher thermoelectric efficiencies. However, it is still challenging to optimize the nanostructure via conventional fabrication techniques. The thermal instability of nanostructures remains an issue in the reproducibility of fabrication processes and long-term stability during operation. This work presents a versatile strategy to create numerous interfaces in a thermoelectric material via an atomic-layer deposition (ALD) technique. An extremely thin ZnO layer was conformally formed via ALD over the Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 powders, and numerous heterogeneous interfaces were generated from the formation of Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3ZnO coreshell structures even after high-temperature sintering. The incorporation of ALD-grown ZnO into the Bi0.4Sb1.6Te3 matrix blocks phonon propagation and also provides tunability in electronic carrier density via impurity doping at the heterogeneous grain boundaries. The exquisite control in the ALD cycles provides a high thermoelectric performance of zT = 1.50 0.15 (at 329360 K). Specifically, ALD is an industry compatible technique that allows uniform and conformal coating over large quantities of powders. The study is promising in terms of the mass production of nanostructured thermoelectric materials with considerable improvements in performance via an industry compatible and reproducible route.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7146-7154
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 25
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the financial support from the R&D Convergence Program of NST (National Research Council of Science and Technology) of Republic of Korea. D.Y.C. acknowledges the support from Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (grant no. 2018R1D1A1B07043427).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.


  • ZnO
  • atomic layer deposition
  • bismuth antimony telluride
  • heterogeneous interface
  • p-type
  • thermoelectric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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