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Title: Effect of high fluence neutron irradiation on transport properties of thermoelectrics

Thermoelectric materials were subjected to high fluence neutron irradiation in order to understand the effect of radiation damage on transport properties. This paper is relevant to the NASA Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) program in which thermoelectric elements are exposed to radiation over a long period of time in space missions. Selected n-type and p-type bismuth telluride materials were irradiated at the High Flux Isotope Reactor with a neutron fluence of 1.3 × 10 18 n/cm 2 (E > 0.1 MeV). The increase in the Seebeck coefficient in the n-type material was partially off-set by an increase in electrical resistivity, making the power factor higher at lower temperatures. For the p-type materials, although the Seebeck coefficient was not affected by irradiation, electrical resistivity decreased slightly. The figure of merit, zT, showed a clear drop in the 300–400 K range for the p-type material and an increase for the n-type material. Considering that the p-type and n-type materials are connected in series in a module, the overall irradiation damages at the device level were limited. Finally, these results, at neutron fluences exceeding a typical space mission, are significant to ensure that the radiation damage to thermoelectrics does not affect the performance ofmore » RTGs.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Materials Science and Technology Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Applied Physics Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 111; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 0003-6951
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program; USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (EE-3V)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; Neutron radiation effects; Nuclear engineering; Electronic transport; Electrical resistivity; Chemical compounds
OSTI Identifier: