The ultralow thermal conductivity and tunable thermoelectric properties of surfactant-free SnSe nanocrystals

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6 Scopus citations


Most studies to date on SnSe thermal transport are focused on single crystals and polycrystalline pellets that are obtained using high-temperature processing conditions and sophisticated instruments. The effects of using sub-10 nm-size SnSe nanocrystals on the thermal transport and thermoelectric properties have not been studied to the best of our knowledge. Here, we report the synthesis of sub-10 nm colloidal surfactant-free SnSe NCs at a relatively low temperature (80 °C) and investigate their thermoelectric properties. Pristine SnSe NCs exhibit p-type transport but have a modest power factor of 12.5 μW m−1 K−2 and ultralow thermal conductivity of 0.1 W m−1 K−1 at 473 K. Interestingly, the one-step post-synthesis treatment of NC film with methylammonium iodide can switch the p-type transport of the pristine film to n-type. The power factor improved significantly to 20.3 μW m−1 K−2, and the n-type NCs show record ultralow thermal conductivity of 0.14 W m−1 K−1 at 473 K. These surfactant-free SnSe NCs were then used to fabricate flexible devices that show superior performance to rigid devices. After 20 bending cycles, the flexible device shows a 34% loss in the power factor at room temperature (295 K). Overall, this work demonstrates p- and n-type transport in SnSe NCs via the use of simple one-step post-synthesis treatment, while retaining ultralow thermal conductivity.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28072-28080
Number of pages9
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number45
StatePublished - Aug 19 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-08-27
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): OSR-2018-CARF/CCF-3079, OSR-CRG2018-3737
Acknowledgements: This publication is based upon work supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under award no. OSR-CRG2018-3737 and OSR-2018-CARF/CCF-3079.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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