Anharmonicity and atomic distribution of SnTe and PbTe thermoelectrics
© 2014 American Physical Society. The structure and lattice dynamics of rock-salt thermoelectric materials SnTe and PbTe are investigated with single-crystal and powder neutron diffraction, inelastic neutron scattering (INS), and first-principles simulations. Our first-principles calculations of the radial distribution function in both SnTe and PbTe show a clear asymmetry in the first nearest-neighbor (1NN) peak, which increases with temperature, in agreement with recent experimental reports. We show that this peak asymmetry for the 1NN Sn-Te or Pb-Te bond results from large-amplitude anharmonic vibrations (phonons). No atomic off centering is found in our simulations. In addition, the atomic mean-square displacements derived from our diffraction data reveal stiffer bonding at the anion site, in good agreement with the partial phonon densities of states from INS and first-principles calculations. These results provide clear evidence for large-amplitude anharmonic phonons associated with the resonant bonding leading to the ferroelectric instability.
Li, CW; Ma, J; Cao, HB; May, AF; Abernathy, DL; Ehlers, G; Hoffmann, C; Wang, X; Hong, T; Huq, A; Gourdon, O; Delaire, O
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