A rational yet scalable solution phase method has been established, for the first time, to obtain n-type Bi(2)Te(3) ultrathin nanowires with an average diameter of 8 nm in high yield (up to 93%). Thermoelectric properties of bulk pellets fabricated by compressing the nanowire powder through spark plasma sintering have been investigated. Compared to the current commercial n-type Bi(2)Te(3)-based bulk materials, our nanowire devices exhibit an enhanced ZT of 0.96 peaked at 380 K due to a significant reduction of thermal conductivity derived from phonon scattering at the nanoscale interfaces in the bulk pellets, which corresponds to a 13% enhancement compared to that of the best n-type commercial Bi(2)Te(2.7)Se(0.3) single crystals (~0.85) and is comparable to the best reported result of n-type Bi(2)Te(2.7)Se(0.3) sample (ZT = 1.04) fabricated by the hot pressing of ball-milled powder. The uniformity and high yield of the nanowires provide a promising route to make significant contributions to the manufacture of nanotechnology-based thermoelectric power generation and solid-state cooling devices with superior performance in a reliable and a reproducible way.
© 2011 American Chemical Society