Silver Copper Telluride (AgCuTe)


  • A novel compound that exhibits poor thermal conductivity in the 25-425 degree C range but shows good electrical conductivity has been developed by a team of researchers led by Dr Kanishka Biswas from Bengaluru’s Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). The compound, silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), shows promise as a thermoelectric material for converting waste heat into electricity.

Potential applications:

  • Potential applications of the thermoelectric technology are in automobile industry, chemical, thermal and steel power plants where large quantities of heat are wasted.

Other facts:

  • Both cations [silver and copper] contribute to low thermal conductivity but silver contributes more. Over 170 degree C, both silver and copper ions flow like liquid within the rigid tellurium sublattice, thereby reducing the thermal conductivity to the level of glass without affecting the hole (electrical carrier) transport,
  • In contrast, the tellurium atoms (anion) are strongly bound and the lattice is very rigid. The strongly bound tellurium provides a conduction channel for holes thus rendering good electrical conductivity as seen in metals.
  • By combining silver and copper with tellurium we have made our material as a combination of glass and metal — poor thermal conductivity and good electrical conductivity
  • Silver telluride does not have good thermoelectric property because it has higher thermal conductivity than our material


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