Lead Telluride

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lead telluride is a compound of lead and tellurium (CAS number 1314-91-6), which crystallizes in the NaCl crystal structure with Pb atoms occupying the cation sites and Te forming the anionic lattice. It occurs naturally as the mineral altaite. It is used to make thermoelectric generators, infrared detectors and tunnel diodes. It has excellent performance as a material to convert thermal energy to electricity at elevated temperatures, partly due to its low thermal conductivity. It is also an essential raw material for other industrial applications such as organic synthesis and pharmaceuticals.

The specialized power generation capability of lead telluride, which uses waste heat from terrestrial and space applications, motivated the search for new improved IV-VI materials with high figure of merit Z. Recently, simple binary PbTe alloys and n-type PbTe have demonstrated exceptional power-conversion efficiency, optimized peak zT far beyond the values commonly reported since 1960. These exceptional performances can be understood as a result of atomic-level physics and are expected to motivate further studies of other isostructural PbTe alloys and simple binary IV-VI semiconductors.

lead telluride is toxic by inhalation, swallowing and skin contact and causes damage to the liver and kidneys. It is a respiratory tract and eye irritant, and may cause reproductive toxicity. It is harmful to the aquatic environment and can form poisonous vapors at high concentrations. It is a carcinogen and has been linked to diseases of the kidneys, lung, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.