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Report No.
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Ultralow thermal conductivity from transverse acoustic phonon suppression in distorted crystalline $$alpha$$-MgAgSb

Li, X.*; Liu, P.-F.*; Zhao, E.*; Zhang, Z.*; Guide, T.*; Le, M. D.*; Avdeev, M.*; Ikeda, Kazutaka*; Otomo, Toshiya*; Kofu, Maiko  ; Nakajima, Kenji  ; Chen, J.*; He, L.*; Ren, Y.*; Wang, X.-L.*; Wang, B.-T.*; Ren, Z.*; Zhao, H.*; Wang, F.*

In high-performance thermoelectric materials, there are two main low thermal conductivity mechanisms: the phonon anharmonic and phonon scattering resulting from the dynamic disorder, which have been successfully revealed by inelastic neutron scattering. Using neutron scattering and ab initio calculations, we report here a mechanism of static local structure distortion combined with phonon-anharmonic-induced ultralow lattice thermal conductivity in $$alpha$$-MgAgSb. Since the transverse acoustic phonons are almost fully scattered by the intrinsic distorted rocksalt sublattice in this compound, the heat is mainly transported by the longitudinal acoustic phonons. The ultralow thermal conductivity in $$alpha$$-MgAgSb is attributed to its atomic dynamics being altered by the structure distortion, which presents a possible microscopic route to enhance the performance of similar thermoelectric materials.

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