Effect of intrinsic defects on the thermal conductivity of PbTe from classical molecular dynamics simulations

Javier F. Troncoso, Pablo Aguado-Puente, Jorge Kohanoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Despite being the archetypal thermoelectric material, still today some of the most exciting advances in the efficiency of these materials are being achieved by tuning the properties of PbTe. Its inherently low lattice thermal conductivity can be lowered to its fundamental limit by designing a structure capable of scattering phonons over a wide range of length scales. Intrinsic defects, such as vacancies or grain boundaries, can and do play the role of these scattering sites. Here we assess the effect of these defects by means of molecular dynamics simulations. For this we purposely parametrize a Buckingham potential that provides an excellent description of the thermal conductivity of this material over a wide temperature range. Our results show that intrinsic point defects and grain boundaries can reduce the lattice conductivity of PbTe down to a quarter of its bulk value. By studying the size dependence we also show that typical defect concentrations and grain sizes realized in experiments normally correspond to the bulk lattice conductivity of pristine PbTe.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of physics. Condensed matter : an Institute of Physics journal
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2019

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Molecular dynamics
Thermal conductivity
thermal conductivity
molecular dynamics
Defects
defects
Computer simulation
Grain boundaries
grain boundaries
Scattering
conductivity
thermoelectric materials
simulation
Point defects
Phonons
scattering
Crystal lattices
point defects
Vacancies
phonons

Cite this

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abstract = "Despite being the archetypal thermoelectric material, still today some of the most exciting advances in the efficiency of these materials are being achieved by tuning the properties of PbTe. Its inherently low lattice thermal conductivity can be lowered to its fundamental limit by designing a structure capable of scattering phonons over a wide range of length scales. Intrinsic defects, such as vacancies or grain boundaries, can and do play the role of these scattering sites. Here we assess the effect of these defects by means of molecular dynamics simulations. For this we purposely parametrize a Buckingham potential that provides an excellent description of the thermal conductivity of this material over a wide temperature range. Our results show that intrinsic point defects and grain boundaries can reduce the lattice conductivity of PbTe down to a quarter of its bulk value. By studying the size dependence we also show that typical defect concentrations and grain sizes realized in experiments normally correspond to the bulk lattice conductivity of pristine PbTe.",
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T1 - Effect of intrinsic defects on the thermal conductivity of PbTe from classical molecular dynamics simulations

AU - Troncoso, Javier F.

AU - Aguado-Puente, Pablo

AU - Kohanoff, Jorge

PY - 2019/10/24

Y1 - 2019/10/24

N2 - Despite being the archetypal thermoelectric material, still today some of the most exciting advances in the efficiency of these materials are being achieved by tuning the properties of PbTe. Its inherently low lattice thermal conductivity can be lowered to its fundamental limit by designing a structure capable of scattering phonons over a wide range of length scales. Intrinsic defects, such as vacancies or grain boundaries, can and do play the role of these scattering sites. Here we assess the effect of these defects by means of molecular dynamics simulations. For this we purposely parametrize a Buckingham potential that provides an excellent description of the thermal conductivity of this material over a wide temperature range. Our results show that intrinsic point defects and grain boundaries can reduce the lattice conductivity of PbTe down to a quarter of its bulk value. By studying the size dependence we also show that typical defect concentrations and grain sizes realized in experiments normally correspond to the bulk lattice conductivity of pristine PbTe.

AB - Despite being the archetypal thermoelectric material, still today some of the most exciting advances in the efficiency of these materials are being achieved by tuning the properties of PbTe. Its inherently low lattice thermal conductivity can be lowered to its fundamental limit by designing a structure capable of scattering phonons over a wide range of length scales. Intrinsic defects, such as vacancies or grain boundaries, can and do play the role of these scattering sites. Here we assess the effect of these defects by means of molecular dynamics simulations. For this we purposely parametrize a Buckingham potential that provides an excellent description of the thermal conductivity of this material over a wide temperature range. Our results show that intrinsic point defects and grain boundaries can reduce the lattice conductivity of PbTe down to a quarter of its bulk value. By studying the size dependence we also show that typical defect concentrations and grain sizes realized in experiments normally correspond to the bulk lattice conductivity of pristine PbTe.

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