In a groundbreaking study, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Mandi, Vinod Solet and Sudhir Pandey, have delved into the thermal properties of a promising alloy composed of scandium (Sc), silver (Ag), and carbon (C). This alloy holds great potential for use in advanced technologies that convert heat into electricity, as well as highly efficient solar cells due to its low reflectivity and strong photon absorption.
The study focuses on phonons, which are quantum particles representing the smallest units of vibrational energy in solids or “quanta” of heat. Phonons play a crucial role in governing thermal expansion and heat conduction in materials like ScAgC. While previous research has explored these effects, this study goes a step further by employing first-principles calculations to investigate phonon behaviors.
The researchers accurately estimated ScAgC’s thermal expansion and the thermal conductivity of its molecular lattice by considering interactions between phonons, lattice boundaries, defects, and other phonons. This approach significantly improves the accuracy of their findings compared to traditional techniques.
The implications of this study are profound. It opens up avenues for further research into phonon-based properties not only for ScAgC but also for other materials in the Heusler compound family. By enhancing our understanding of these properties through first-principles calculations, the potential for cleaner and more energy-efficient technologies based on advanced thermoelectric materials and solar cells becomes a possibility.