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Thermoelectric transport properties of nanostructured doped C(o)Sb(3)skutterudites

Transport properties, namely Seebeck coefficient, electrical conductivity, thermal diffusivity, specific heat, carrier concentration and Hall mobility have been measured with confidence on an extensive number of nanostructured CoSb(3) skutterudite materials of the form R(y)Co(1-x) M(x)Sb(3) where R are rare earth materials and M=Ni, Fe, C etc.

The dimensionless figure-of-merit ZT of these materials has been obtained from these measurements using the relationship ZT = [alpha](2) [sigma] / [lambda] where alpha is the Seebeck coefficient, sigma the electrical conductivity and lambda the total thermal conductivity of the material. Thermal conductivity was obtained from thermal diffusivity (lambda’) measurements, sample density (d) and specific heat measurements (Cp) according to the relationship [lambda]=[lambda]’ C(p) d.

Significant reductions of 4 to 5 times in the total thermal conductivity when compared to unfilled C(o)Sb(3) materials prepared by conventional methods have been obtained. Despite relatively low electrical conductivity values, a ZT of above 0.3 at 650K has been measured to-date on these materials. Further improvements in electrical conductivity through optimised doping and consolidation parameters are expected to yield an increase in ZT values. Increased ZT values will enable high performance thermoelectric devices to be realised, extending the range of possible applications for this technology throughout Europe and worldwide.

More information on the NANOTHERMEL project can be found at:

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