lead telluride, PbTe, is a compound of lead and tellurium that forms white cubic crystals. It has a hardness of 3 on the Mohs scale and is slightly soluble in water. It has semiconductive and photoconductive properties.
It has been used as a catalyst for oxygen reduction in fuel cells and is an important component of primary batteries. It is also used in vacuum switches, tunable lasers and thermistors.
High temperature thermoelectric generators have been very successful in space and terrestrial applications for decades. Thermoelectric generators provide a compact, silent, reliable and low maintenance power source.
They are highly efficient and operate at temperatures up to 900 K. They are also very resistant to vapor pressure and chemical corrosion, making them ideal for use in remote applications and in space.
A number of lead salts have been studied for thermoelectric applications and the most common is PbTe4.
Among them, simple binary PbTe alloys exhibit excellent thermoelectric performances in n- and p-type modes with an optimized peak zT of
Thermoelectric power generation using lead telluride single crystals can be enhanced by band-gap engineering with appropriate n- and p-type doping agents. Generally, halogens are used for n-type doping agents such as PbCl2, PbBr2 and PbI2. Na2Te, K2Te, Ag2Te are commonly employed for p-type doping.