Power-Generation Characteristics After Vibration and Thermal Stresses of Thermoelectric Unicouples with CoSb3/Ti/Mo(Cu) Interfaces

Research paper by Kwang Ho Bae, Soon-Mok Choi, Kyung-Hun Kim, Hyoung-Seuk Choi, Won-Seon Seo, Il-Ho Kim, Soonil Lee, Hae Jin Hwang

Indexed on: 06 Mar '15Published on: 06 Mar '15Published in: Journal of Electronic Materials


Reliability tests for thermoelectric unicouples were carried out to investigate the adhesion properties of CoSb3/Ti/Mo(Cu) interfaces. The n-type In0.25 Co3.95Ni0.05Sb12 and p-type In0.25Co3FeSb12 bulks were prepared for fabricating a thermoelectric unicouple (one p–n couple) by an induction melting and a spark plasma sintering process. Mo-Cu alloy was selected as an electrode for the unicouples due to its high melting temperature and proper work function value. Many thermoelectric unicouples with the CoSb3/Ti/Mo(Cu) interfaces were fabricated with the proper brazing materials by means of a repeated firing process. Reliability of the unicouples with the interfaces was evaluated by a vibration test and a thermal cycling test. After the thermal cycling and vibration tests, the power-generation characteristics of the unicouples were compared with the unicouples before the tests. Even after the vibration test, electrical power with a power density of 0.5 W/cm2 was generated. The Ti-interlayer is considered as a possible candidate for making a reliable unicouple with high adhesion strength. With the thermal cycling test, the resistance of the unicouple increased and the electrical power from the unicouple decreased. A failure mode by the thermal cycling test was ascribed to a complex effect of micro-cracks originated from the thermal stress and oxidation problem of the thermoelectric materials; that is, a thick oxide layer more than 300 μm was detected after a high-temperature durability test of n-type In0.25Co3.95Ni0.05Sb12 material at 773 K in air for 7 days.