Thursday, November 29, 2012

1211.6618 (Holger Euchner et al.)

Phononic filter effect of rattling phonons in the thermoelectric
clathrate Ba$_8$Ge$_{40+x}$Ni$_{6-x}$

Holger Euchner, Stephane Pailhès, Lien Nguyen, Wolf Assmus, Franz Ritter, Amir Haghighirad, Yuri Grin, Silke Paschen, Marc. de Boissieu
One of the key requirements for good thermoelectric materials is a low lattice thermal conductivity. Here we present a combined neutron scattering and theoretical investigation of the lattice dynamics in the type I clathrate system Ba-Ge-Ni, which fulfills this requirement. We observe a strong hybridization between phonons of the Ba guest atoms and acoustic phonons of the Ge-Ni host structure over a wide region of the Brillouin zone which is in contrast with the frequently adopted picture of isolated Ba atoms in Ge-Ni host cages. It occurs without a strong decrease of the acoustic phonon lifetime which contradicts the usual assumption of strong anharmonic phonon--phonon scattering processes. Within the framework of ab-intio density functional theory calculations we interpret these hybridizations as a series of an ti-crossings which act as a low pass filter, preventing the propagation of acoustic phonons. To highlight the effect of such a phononic low pass filter on the thermal transport, we compute the contribution of acoustic phonons to the thermal conductivity of Ba$_8$Ge$_{40}$Ni$_{6}$ and compare it to those of pure Ge and a Ge$_{46}$ empty-cage model system.
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