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Bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) is a gray powder that is a compound of bismuth and tellurium also known as bismuth(III) telluride. It is a semiconductor which, when alloyed with antimony or selenium is an efficient thermoelectric material for refrigeration or portable power generation. Topologically protected surface states have been observed in bismuth telluride.

Bismuth telluride is a narrow gap layered semiconductor with a trigonal unit cell. The valence and conduction band structure can be described as a many-ellipsoidal model with 6 constant-energy ellipsoids that are centered on the reflection planes. Bi2Te3 cleaves easily along the trigonal axis due to Van der Waals bonding between neighboring tellurium atoms. Due to this, bismuth telluride based material that are used for power generation or cooling applications must be polycrystalline. Furthermore, the Seebeck coefficient of bulk Bi2Te3 becomes compensated around room temperature, forcing the materials used in power generation devices to be an alloy of bismuth, antimony, tellurium, and selenium.

Recently, researchers have attempted to improve the efficiency of Bi2Te3 based materials by creating structures where one or more dimensions are reduced, such as nanowires or thin films. In one such instance n-type bismuth telluride was shown to have an improved Seebeck coefficient (voltage per unit temperature difference) of −287 μV/K at 54 Celsius, However, one must realize that Seebeck Coefficient and electrical conductivity have a tradeoff; a higher Seebeck coefficient results in decreased carrier concentration and decreased electrical conductivity.

In another case, researchers report that bismuth telluride has high electrical conductivity of 1.1×105 S·m/m2 with its very low lattice thermal conductivity of 1.20 W/(m·K), similar to ordinary glass.
General properties:

Molar mass:   800.761 g/mol
Appearance:  Grey pieces
Lattice Parameters: a=4.38A, c=30.49A
Density:  7.85 g/cm3

Melting point:585 °C,
Crystal structure: Hexagonal


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