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

Abstract

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 × 1018 n/cm2 (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 of RTGs.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Materials Science and Technology Division
Publication Date:
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)
OSTI Identifier:
1376455
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Applied Physics Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 111; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 0003-6951
Publisher:
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; Neutron radiation effects; Nuclear engineering; Electronic transport; Electrical resistivity; Chemical compounds

Citation Formats

Wang, H., and Leonard, K. J. Effect of high fluence neutron irradiation on transport properties of thermoelectrics. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1063/1.4990714.
Wang, H., & Leonard, K. J. Effect of high fluence neutron irradiation on transport properties of thermoelectrics. United States. doi:10.1063/1.4990714.
Wang, H., and Leonard, K. J. Tue . "Effect of high fluence neutron irradiation on transport properties of thermoelectrics". United States. doi:10.1063/1.4990714. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1376455.
@article{osti_1376455,
title = {Effect of high fluence neutron irradiation on transport properties of thermoelectrics},
author = {Wang, H. and Leonard, K. J.},
abstractNote = {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 × 1018 n/cm2 (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 of RTGs.},
doi = {10.1063/1.4990714},
journal = {Applied Physics Letters},
number = 4,
volume = 111,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {7}
}

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