Nautiyal, Himanshu; Lohani, Ketan; Mukherjee, Binayak; Isotta, Eleonora; Malagutti, Marcelo; Ataollahi, Narges; Pellecchi, Ilaria; Putti, Marina; Misture, Scott; Rebuffi, Luca; Scardi, Paolo
Copper-based chalcogenides have emerged as promising thermoelectric materials due to their high thermoelectric performance, tunable transport properties, earth abundance and low toxicity. We have presented an overview of experimental results and first-principal calculations investigating the thermoelectric properties of various polymorphs of Cu2SnS3 (CTS), Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS), and Cu2ZnSnSe4 (CZTSe) synthesized by high-energy reactive mechanical alloying (ball milling). Of particular interest are the disordered polymorphs of these materials, which exhibit phonon-glasselectron-crystal behaviora decoupling of electron and phonon transport properties. The interplay of cationic disorder and nanostructuring leads to ultra-low thermal conductivities while enhancing electronic transport. These beneficial transport properties are the consequence of a plethora of features, including trap states, anharmonicity, rattling, and conductive surface states, both topologically trivial and non-trivial. Based on experimental results and computational methods, this report aims to elucidate the details of the electronic and lattice transport properties, thereby confirming that the higher thermoelectric (TE) performance of disordered polymorphs is essentially due to their complex crystallographic structures. In addition, we have presented synchrotron X-ray diffraction (SR-XRD) measurements and ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations of the root-mean-square displacement (RMSD) in these materials, confirming anharmonicity and bond inhomogeneity for disordered polymorphs.