Characterization of Na-Loaded Type II Si and Ge Clathrates: A Systematic Structure–Property Evaluation of Thermoelectric Materials
Ritchie, Andrew David
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The present study aims to increase understanding of the physical processes that govern thermoelectric efficiency in Na-containing group 14 type II clathrates. This has been achieved through structural characterization and physical property measurements. Local and electronic structures of Si clathrates with the formula NaxSi136, where x = 0, 1.3, 5.5, 7.2, 8.8, 14.1, 20 and 21.5 were studied using x-ray absorption spectroscopy. Thermoelectric properties, namely Seebeck coefficient, electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity were measured from 2.5 K to 400 K. Low Na content samples, x < 8, showed reduced thermal conductivity compared to the empty clathrate, x = 0. For x > 8, increased Na content led to increased charge transfer, increased thermal conductivity and decreased magnitude of Seebeck voltages. The heat capacities of the NaxSi136 materials were measured from 2.5 K to 300 K. Analysis of the heat capacity data showed that the vibrational modes associated with Na in the Si28 cages are of sufficiently low energies to interact with heat transporting acoustic phonons, leading to reduced thermal conductivity as x is increased up to ~ 8. Increasing Na content beyond x = 8 introduces Na into the Si20 cages. This stiffens the lattice, increasing (or maintaining) phononic contributions to thermal conductivity, and increasing electronic contributions. Electronic thermal conductivity is responsible for upwards of 50 % of heat conduction when x = 21.5. Na containing type II Ge clathrates were produced using an ionic liquid reaction medium. Seebeck coefficients observed in Na9Ge136 materials, were negative but larger in magnitude than those of the NaxSi136 materials and thermal conductivities of Na9Ge136 were lower than those of the NaxSi136 materials. While both Si and Ge type II clathrates showed modest figures of merit, with maximum ZT values of 2.5 × 10-6 and 2.8 × 10-5 observed in Na20Si136 and Na¬9Ge136, of the two framework elements, type II Ge clathrates have been shown to have more favourable thermoelectric properties.