, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 1271-1280
Date: 29 Mar 2011

Intercalation: Building a Natural Superlattice for Better Thermoelectric Performance in Layered Chalcogenides

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Abstract

A natural superlattice with composition (SnS)1.2(TiS2)2, built by intercalating a SnS layer into the van der Waals gap of layered TiS2, has been directly observed by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). The thermoelectric performance is improved in the direction parallel to the layers because the electron mobility is maintained while simultaneously suppressing phonon transport, which is attributed to softening of the transverse sound velocities due to weakened interlayer bonding. In the direction perpendicular to the layers, the lattice thermal conductivity of (SnS)1.2(TiS2)2 is even lower than the predicted minimum thermal conductivity, which may be caused by phonon localization due to the translational disorder of the SnS layers parallel to the layers. Moreover, we propose a large family of misfit-layer compounds (MX)1+x (TX2) n (M = Pb, Bi, Sn, Sb, rare-earth elements; T = Ti, V, Cr, Nb, Ta; X = S, Se; n = 1, 2, 3) with a natural superlattice structure as possible candidate high-performance thermoelectric materials.