Uncovering the Atomic Mechanism Underpinning Heat Transport in Thermoelectric Materials

To better understand how thermoelectric devices convert thermal energy into electricity at the atomic scale, researchers used neutrons to study single crystals of tin sulfide and tin selenide. The results revealed a strong correlation between changes in the structure at certain temperatures and the frequency of atomic vibrations (phonons). This allowed the researchers to identify temperatures ideal for energy conversion and provided basic scientific knowledge for designing new thermoelectric materials.