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  1. Introducing nanostructural second phases has been proved to be an effective approach to reduce the lattice thermal conductivity and thus enhance the figure of merit for many thermoelectric materials. Furthermore studies of the formation and evolution of these second phases are central to understanding temperature dependent material behavior, improving thermal stabilities, as well as designing new materials. We examined powder samples of PbTe-PbS thermoelectric material using in situ neutron diffraction and small angle neutron scattering (SANS) techniques from room temperature to elevated temperature up to 663 K, to explore quantitative information on the structure, weight fraction, and size of themore » second phase. Neutron diffraction data showed the as-milled powder was primarily solid solution before heat treatment. During heating, PbS second phase precipitated out of the PbTe matrix around 480 K, while re-dissolution started around 570 K. The second phase remained separated from the matrix upon cooling. Furthermore, SANS data indicated there are two populations of nanostructures. The size of the smaller nanostructure increased from initially 5 nm to approximately 25 nm after annealing at 650 K, while the size of the larger nanostructure remained unchanged. Our study demonstrated that in situ neutron techniques are effective means to obtain quantitative information to study temperature dependent nanostructural behavior of thermoelectrics and likely other high-temperature materials.« less

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