Origin of Inhomogeneity in Spark Plasma Sintered Bismuth Antimony Telluride Thermoelectric Nanocomposites

Shuang Cui, Enzheng Shi, Nicholas Kempf, Qingfeng Xing, Thomas Chasapis, Huazhang Zhu, Zhe Li, Je-Hyeong Bahk, G. Snyder, Yanliang Zhang, Renkun Chen, Yue Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus Citations


Anisotropy and inhomogeneity are ubiquitous in spark plasma sintered thermoelectric devices. However, the origin of inhomogeneity in thermoelectric nanocomposites has rarely been investigated so far. Herein, we systematically study the impact of inhomogeneity in spark plasma sintered bismuth antimony telluride (BiSbTe) thermoelectric nanocomposites fabricated from solution-synthesized nanoplates. The figure of merit can reach 1.18, which, however, can be overestimated to 1.88 without considering the inhomogeneity. Our study reveals that the inhomogeneity in thermoelectric properties is attributed to the non-uniformity of porosity, textures and elemental distribution from electron backscatter diffraction and energy-dispersive spectroscopy characterizations. This finding suggests that the optimization of bulk material homogeneity should also be actively pursued in any future thermoelectric material research.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1339-1346
Number of pages8
JournalNano Research
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-75854


  • bismuth antimony telluride
  • inhomogeneity
  • solution synthesis
  • thermoelectrics


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