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Onereview work entitled “Advanced Electron Microscopy for Thermoelectric Materials”was recently published on Nano Energy (IF=10.211, 2013), whichis a top journal in energy materials. In the present work, SUSTC is thefirst-author and corresponding-author affiliate.
Thermoelectric (TE) power generation, harvesting thewidely distributed heat and convert it into electricity, is a promisingenergy-crisis solution. “TE” is a research hotspot in recent fifty years. Theproperties of a TE material strongly correlate with its structural features,e.g., external “imperfectness” and intrinsic electronic configurations. Researchershave increasingly realized the importance of “structure” on “TE”. Advanced electronmicroscopy (EM) can provide chemical, structural and electronic information ofmaterials, and are receiving more attention to characterize various structuralfeatures of TE materials, which is crucial to understand the materialphysically and design new materials with desired properties.
Inthis review work, the authors firstly summarize “what have been done”involving: structural and chemical characterizations of all-scale“imperfectness”, electronic structure investigation, 3-D morphology and dynamicevolution of nanostructures, and atomic-scale mapping of Seebeck coefficient anddefects; based on these characterized features, we then briefly review the calculationson electrical and thermal transport properties to illustrate thestructure-property correlations. In what follows, they propose “what can bedone” in TEs via EM techniques including:valence-electron distribution, quantitative measurement of atomic displacement,point defect characterization, local band gap measurement, phonon excitationdetection, electrostatic potential determination, thermal stability ofnanostructures, and in-situ observation and measurement of local TE effects.
Figure. Electron interactions with TE specimen and (scanning) transmissionelectron microscopy (S)TEM based microanalysis.