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Dynamic Lone Pair Expression as Chemical Bonding Origin of Giant Phonon Anharmonicity in Thermoelectric InTe

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  • Jiawei Zhang, CAS - Shanghai Institute of Ceramics
  • ,
  • Daisuke Ishikawa, RIKEN SPring-8 Center, SPring-8, JASRI, 1-1-1 Kouto, Sayo-cho, Sayo-gun, Hyogo, Japan
  • ,
  • Michael M. Koza, Institut Laue-Langevin
  • ,
  • Eiji Nishibori, University of Tsukuba
  • ,
  • Lirong Song
  • ,
  • Alfred Q. R. Baron, SPring-8, JASRI, 1-1-1 Kouto, Sayo-cho, Sayo-gun, Hyogo, Japan, RIKEN SPring-8 Center
  • ,
  • Bo Brummerstedt Iversen
Loosely bonded (“rattling”) atoms with s2 lone pair electrons are usually associated with strong anharmonicity and unexpectedly low thermal conductivity, yet their detailed correlation remains largely unknown. Here we resolve this correlation in thermoelectric InTe by combining chemical bonding analysis, inelastic X-ray and neutron scattering, and first principles phonon calculations. We successfully probe soft low-lying transverse phonons dominated by large In1+ z-axis motions, and their giant anharmonicity. We show that the highly anharmonic phonons arise from the dynamic lone pair expression with unstable occupied antibonding states induced by the covalency between delocalized In1+ 5s2 lone pair electrons and Te 5p states. This work pinpoints the microscopic origin of strong anharmonicity driven by rattling atoms with stereochemical lone pair activity, important for designing efficient materials for thermoelectric energy conversion.
TidsskriftAngewandte Chemie International Edition
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2023

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