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Reversible switching between p- and n-type conduction in the semiconductor Ag10Te4Br3


Semiconductors are key materials in modern electronics and are widely used to build, for instance, transistors in integrated circuits as well as thermoelectric materials for energy conversion, and there is a tremendous interest in the development and improvement of novel materials and technologies to increase the performance of electronic devices and thermoelectrics. Tetramorphic Ag10Te4Br3 is a semiconductor capable of switching its electrical properties by a simple change of temperature. The combination of high silver mobility, a small non-stoichiometry range and an internal redox process in the tellurium substructure causes a thermopower drop of 1,400 μV K−1, in addition to a thermal diffusivity in the range of organic polymers. The capability to reversibly switch semiconducting properties from ionic to electronic conduction in one single compound simply by virtue of temperature enables novel electronic devices such as semiconductor switches.

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Figure 1: Electrical conductivity, Seebeck coefficient and DSC data for Ag10Te4Br3.
Figure 2: Temperature dependence of the cell voltage of a galvanic cell with a Ag10Te4Br3 electrode versus the Ag reference.
Figure 3: Steady-state current–voltage curves for a Pt microelectrode on Ag10Te4Br3 at different temperatures within the relevant range 363 to 403 K.
Figure 4: ELF analysis of the polyanionic substructure of Ag10Te4Br3.
Figure 5: Temperature-dependent solid-state 125Te MAS-NMR data for Ag10125Te4Br3.
Figure 6: Temperature-dependent isotropic chemical shifts of the covalently bonded Te positions for all Ag10Te4Br3 polymorphs.
Figure 7: Temperature-dependent static and MAS 109Ag solid-state NMR spectra for Ag10Te4Br3.


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This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Sonderforschungsbereich 458. We thank W. Hermes for the Cp measurements.

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Authors and Affiliations



S.L. prepared the sample, performed the phase analyses and carried out the chemical characterizations. M.B., M.J., J.M.D. and H.D.W. conducted the electrochemical experiments and R.D. and B.C. measured the thermoelectric data. NMR spectra were recorded and interpreted by J.V. and H.E., R.W. carried out the quantum chemical calculations and T.N. devised the project and planed all project steps, interpreted all thermoelectric and structure data and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tom Nilges.

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Nilges, T., Lange, S., Bawohl, M. et al. Reversible switching between p- and n-type conduction in the semiconductor Ag10Te4Br3. Nature Mater 8, 101–108 (2009).

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