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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effective mass and Fermi surface complexity factor from ab initio band structure calculations

  • Author(s): Gibbs, ZM
  • Ricci, F
  • Li, G
  • Zhu, H
  • Persson, K
  • Ceder, G
  • Hautier, G
  • Jain, A
  • Snyder, GJ
  • et al.

© 2017 The Author(s). The effective mass is a convenient descriptor of the electronic band structure used to characterize the density of states and electron transport based on a free electron model. While effective mass is an excellent first-order descriptor in real systems, the exact value can have several definitions, each of which describe a different aspect of electron transport. Here we use Boltzmann transport calculations applied to ab initio band structures to extract a density-of-states effective mass from the Seebeck Coefficient and an inertial mass from the electrical conductivity to characterize the band structure irrespective of the exact scattering mechanism. We identify a Fermi Surface Complexity Factor: N∗vK∗from the ratio of these two masses, which in simple cases depends on the number of Fermi surface pockets (N∗v) and their anisotropy K∗, both of which are beneficial to high thermoelectric performance as exemplified by the high values found in PbTe. The Fermi Surface Complexity factor can be used in high-throughput search of promising thermoelectric materials.

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