Improved Thermoelectric Performance in N-Type Half-Heusler NbCoSn by Heavy-Element Pt Doping

Half-Heusler compounds with a valence electron count of 18, including ZrNiSn, ZrCoSb, and NbFeSb, are good thermoelec-tric materials owing to favourable electronic structures. Previous computational studies had predicted a high electrical power factor in another half-Heusler compound NbCoSn, but it has not been extensively investigated experimentally. Herein, the synthesis, structural characterization, and thermoelectric properties of the heavy-element Pt-doped NbCoSn compounds are reported. Pt is found to be an effective dopant enabling the optimization of electrical power factor, simul-taneously leading to a strong point defect scattering of phonons, and thereby suppressing the lattice thermal conductivity. Annealing significantly improves the carrier mobility, which is ascribed to the decreased grain boundary scattering. As a result, a maximum power factor of ~3.4 mWm-1K-2 is obtained at 600 K. In conjunction with the reduced lattice thermal conductivity, a maximum figure of merit zT of ~0.6 is achieved at 773 K for the post-annealed NbCo0.95Pt0.05Sn, an increase of 100% compared to the undoped NbCoSn. This work highlights the important roles of the doping element and micro-structure on the thermoelectric properties of half-Heusler compounds