Role of surfactant on thermoelectric behaviors of organic-inorganic composites

Sunmi Shin, Jong Wook Roh, Hyun Sik Kim, Renkun Chen

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Hybrid organic/inorganic composites have recently attracted intensive interests as a promising candidate for flexible thermoelectric (TE) devices using inherently soft polymers as well as for increasing the degree of freedom to control TE properties. Experimentally, however, enhanced TE performance in hybrid composites has not been commonly observed, primarily due to inhomogeneous mixing between the inorganic and organic components which leads to limited electrical conduction in the less conductive component and consequently a low power factor in the composites compared to their single-component counterparts. In this study, we investigated the effects of different surfactants on the uniformity of mixing and the TE behaviors of the hybrid composites consisting of Bi0.5Sb1.5Te3 (BST) and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT:PSS). We found that compared to dimethyl sulfoxide, which is the most widely used surfactant, Triton X-100 (TX-100) can lead to homogenous dispersion of BST in PEDOT:PSS. By systematically studying the effects of the surfactant concentration, we can attribute the better mixing capability of TX-100 to its non-ionic property, which results in homogenous mixing with a lower critical micelle concentration. Consequently, we observed simultaneous increase in electrical conductivity and Seebeck coefficient in the BST/PEDOT:PSS composites with the TX-100 surfactant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number205106
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number20
StatePublished - 28 May 2018


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