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Direct observation of one-dimensional disordered diffusion channel in a chain-like thermoelectric with ultralow thermal conductivity

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Structural disorder, highly effective in reducing thermal conductivity, is important in technological applications such as thermal barrier coatings and thermoelectrics. In particular, interstitial, disordered, diffusive atoms are common in complex crystal structures with ultralow thermal conductivity, but are rarely found in simple crystalline solids. Combining single-crystal synchrotron X-ray diffraction, the maximum entropy method, diffuse scattering, and theoretical calculations, here we report the direct observation of one-dimensional disordered In 1+ chains in a simple chain-like thermoelectric InTe, which contains a significant In 1+ vacancy along with interstitial indium sites. Intriguingly, the disordered In 1+ chains undergo a static-dynamic transition with increasing temperature to form a one-dimensional diffusion channel, which is attributed to a low In 1+-ion migration energy barrier along the c direction, a general feature in many other TlSe-type compounds. Our work provides a basis towards understanding ultralow thermal conductivity with weak temperature dependence in TlSe-type chain-like materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6709
JournalNature Communications
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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© 2021. The Author(s).

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