Journal of Inorganic Materials ›› 2020, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (2): 224-230.DOI: 10.15541/jim20190112

• RESEARCH LETTERS • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Interfacial Stress Analysis on Skutterudite-based Thermoelectric Joints under Service Conditions

SHAO Xiao1,2,LIU Rui-Heng1,3(),WANG Liang1,CHU Jing1,2,BAI Guang-Hui4,BAI Sheng-Qiang1,3,GU Ming1,ZHANG Li-Na4,MA Wei4,CHEN Li-Dong1,3   

  1. 1. The State Key Lab of High Performance Ceramics and Superfine Microstructure, Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201899, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Center of Materials Science and Optoelectronics Engineering, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4. Science and Technology on Space Physics Laboratory, Beijing 100076, China
  • Received:2019-03-18 Revised:2019-04-30 Online:2020-02-20 Published:2019-05-29
  • Contact: LIU Rui-Heng
  • Supported by:
    National Key Research and Development Program of China(2018YFB0703600);National Natural Science Foundation of China(51572282);National Natural Science Foundation of China(51632010);National Natural Science Foundation of China(11572050);Youth Innovation Promotion Association CAS


In thermoelectric (TE) devices, the interfacial reliability greatly influenced devices’ durability and power output. For skutterudites (SKD) devices, TE legs and electrodes are bonded together with diffusion barrier layer (DBL). At elevated temperatures, DBL react with SKD matrix or electrode to generate complex interfacial microstructures, which often accompanies evolutions of the thermal, electrical and mechanical properties at the interfaces. In this work, a finite element model containing the interfacial microstructure characteristics based on the experimental results was built to analyze the interfacial stress state in the skutterudite-based TE joints. A single-layer model was applied to screen out the most important parameters of the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) and the modulus of DBL on the first principle stress. The multilayer model considering the interfacial microstructures evolution was built to quantitively simulate the stress state of the TE joints at different aging temperatures and time. The simulation results show that the reactive CoSb2 layer is the weakest layer in both SKD/Nb and SKD/Zr joints. And by prolonging the aging time, the thickness of the reaction layer continuously increased, leading to a significant raising of the interfacial stress. The tensile testing results of the SKD/Nb joints match the simulation results well, consolidating accuracy and feasibility of this multilayer model. This study provides an important guidance on the design of DBL to improve the TE joints’ mechanical reliability, and a common method to precisely simulate the stress condition in other coating systems.

Key words: thermoelectric joints, diffusion barrier layer, finite element model, tensile strength

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