Thermoelectric (TE) research is not only a course of materials by discovery but also a seedbed of novel concepts and methodologies. Herein, the focus is on recent advances in three emerging paradigms: entropy engineering, phase-boundary mapping, and liquid-like TE materials in the context of thermodynamic routes. Specifically, entropy engineering is underpinned by the core effects of high-entropy alloys; the extended solubility limit, the tendency to form a high-symmetry crystal structure, severe lattice distortions, and sluggish diffusion processes afford large phase space for performance optimization, high electronic-band degeneracy, rich multiscale microstructures, and low lattice thermal conductivity toward higher-performance TE materials. Entropy engineering is successfully implemented in half-Huesler and IV-VI compounds. In Zintl phases and skutterudites, the efficacy of phase-boundary mapping is demonstrated through unraveling the profound relations among chemical compositions, mutual solubilities of constituent elements, phase instability, microstructures, and resulting TE properties at the operation temperatures. Attention is also given to liquid-like TE materials that exhibit lattice thermal conductivity at lower than the amorphous limit due to intensive mobile ion disorder and reduced vibrational entropy. To conclude, an outlook on the development of next-generation TE materials in line with these thermodynamic routes is given.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: P.-C.W., C.-N.L., H.-J.W., D.Y., and J.H. contributed equally to this work. C.-N.L. and J.-W.Y. would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan through the grant MOST 107-2923-E-007-007-MY2 and the “High Entropy Materials Center” at National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan. H.-J.W. would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Young Scholar fellowship program by the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan through the grant MOST 108-2636-E-110-001. D.W.Y. and X.F.T. would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Natural Science Foundation of China through Grant No. 51632006, 51521001, and 51872219. J.-H.H. would like to acknowledge the financial support from KAUST. S.L. acknowledges the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61728403) and Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. LZ18E030001).