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Published June 2009 | public
Journal Article

Nanoscale inclusions in the phonon glass thermoelectric material Zn_4Sb_3


We have investigated the thermoelectric material Zn_4Sb_3 using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Nanoscale inclusions with a diameter of about 10 nm were observed, constituting on the order of 1% by volume of the material. Studies using energy filtered imaging, electron diffraction, and high-angle annular dark-field STEM indicate that the inclusions consist of Zn. These inclusions are expected to scatter the medium and long-wavelength phonons effectively, thus contributing to phonon glass behavior which results in the exceptionally low thermal conductivity for this thermoelectric material.

Additional Information

© 2009 Taylor & Francis. Received 13 January 2009; final version received 5 April 2009. The authors would like to acknowledge financial support from the Norwegian Research Council and the Caltech MURI program. We would also like to thank Douglas Medlin for discussions.

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