Low intrinsic c-axis thermal conductivity in PVD grown epitaxial Sb2Te3 films

Accurate determination and comprehensive understanding of the intrinsic c-axis thermal conductivity κc of thermoelectric layered Sb2Te3 is of high importance for the development of strategies to optimize the figure of merit in thin film devices via heterostructures and defect engineering. We present here high precision measurements of κc of epitaxial Sb2Te3 thin films on Al2O3 substrates grown by physical vapor deposition in the temperature range of 100 K to 300 K. The Kapitza resistances of the involved interfaces have been determined and subtracted from the film data, allowing access to the intrinsic thermal conductivity of single crystalline Sb2Te3. At room temperature, we obtain κc = 1.9 W/m K, being much smaller than the in-plane thermal conductivity of κab = 5 W/m K and even lower than the thermal conductivity of nano crystalline films of κnc ≈ 2.0–2.6 W/m K published by Park et al. [Nanoscale Res. Lett. 9, 96 (2014)]. High crystallinity and very low defect concentration of the films were confirmed by x-ray diffraction and high resolution transmission electron microscopy. Our data reveal that the phonon mean free path lmfp(T) is not limited by defect scattering and is of intrinsic nature, i.e., due to phonon-phonon scattering similar to other soft van der Waals type bonded layered systems.


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