3D charge and 2D phonon transports leading to high out-of-plane ZT in n-type SnSe crystals

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Thermoelectric technology enables the harvest of waste heat and its direct conversion into electricity. The conversion efficiency is determined by the materials figure of merit ZT. Here we show a maximum ZT of ~2.8 ± 0.5 at 773 kelvin in n-type tin selenide (SnSe) crystals out of plane. The thermal conductivity in layered SnSe crystals is the lowest in the out-of-plane direction [two-dimensional (2D) phonon transport]. We doped SnSe with bromine to make n-type SnSe crystals with the overlapping interlayer charge density (3D charge transport). A continuous phase transition increases the symmetry and diverges two converged conduction bands. These two factors improve carrier mobility, while preserving a large Seebeck coefficient. Our findings can be applied in 2D layered materials and provide a new strategy to enhance out-of-plane electrical transport properties without degrading thermal properties.

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