Conventional theory predicts that ultrahigh lattice thermal conductivity can only occur in crystals composed of strongly bonded light elements, and that it is limited by anharmonic three-phonon processes. We report experimental evidence that departs from these long-held criteria. We measured a local room-temperature thermal conductivity exceeding 1000 watts per meter-kelvin and an average bulk value reaching 900 watts per meter-kelvin in bulk boron arsenide (BAs) crystals, where boron and arsenic are light and heavy elements, respectively. The high values are consistent with a proposal for phonon-band engineering and can only be explained by higher-order phonon processes. These findings yield insight into the physics of heat conduction in solids and show BAs to be the only known semiconductor with ultrahigh thermal conductivity.
Mg2Si1-xSnx solid solutions are promising thermoelectric materials to be applied in vehicle waste-heat recovery. Their thermal stability issue, however, needs to be addressed before the materials can be applied in practical thermoelectric devices. In this work, we studied the crystal structure and chemical composition of Mg2Si1-xSnx in inert gas atmosphere up to 823 K. We found that the sample was oxidized even in high-purity inert gases. Although no obvious structural change has been found in the slightly oxidized sample, carrier concentration decreased significantly since oxidation creates Mg vacancies in the lattice. We demonstrated that an atomic-layer deposited Al2O3 coating can effectively protect Mg2Si1-xSnx from oxidation in inert gases and even in air. In addition, this Al2O3 thin film also provides in situ protection to the Sb-doped Mg2Si1-xSnx samples during the laser-flash measurement and therefore eliminates the measurement error that occurs in uncoated samples as a result of sample oxidation and graphite exfoliation issues.