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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Promising thermoelectric performance in van der Waals layered SnSe2


SnSe as a lead-free IV–VI semiconductor, has attracted intensive attention for its potential thermoelectric applications, since it is less toxic and much cheaper than conventional PbTe and PbSe thermoelectrics. Here we focus on its sister layered compound SnSe2 in n-type showing a thermoelectric performance to be similarly promising as SnSe in the polycrystalline form. This is enabled by its favorable electronic structure according to first principle calculations, its capability to be effectively doped by bromine on selenium site to optimize the carrier concentration, as well as its intrinsic lattice thermal conductivity as low as 0.4 W/m-K due to the weak van der Waals force between layers. The broad carrier concentration ranging from 0.5 to 6 × 1019 cm−3 realized in this work, further leads to a fundamental understanding on the material parameters determining the thermoelectric transport properties, based on a single parabolic band (SPB) model with acoustic scattering. The layered crystal structure leads to a texture in hot-pressed polycrystalline materials and therefore anisotropic transport properties, which can be well understood by the SPB model. This work not only demonstrates SnSe2 as a promising thermoelectric material but also guides the further improvements particularly by band engineering and texturing approaches.

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