YxAlyB14 ceramics are of high interest as high temperature thermoelectric materials with excellent p, n control. In this study, direct synthesis of dense polycrystalline YxAlyB14 (x ~0.64, 0.52 ≤ y ≤ 0.67) ceramics was successfully carried out by spark plasma sintering using commercially available precursors. YB4, AlB2 and B powders were reactively sintered with an additive AlF3 at 1773 K for 5–60 min in reduced Ar atmosphere. The sinterability was remarkably enhanced by liquid phase sintering comparing to conventional synthesis techniques. Phase composition analysis by X-ray diffraction showed that main peaks belong to YxAlyB14 with the MgAlB14 structure type and no peaks of AlF3 were detected. The thermoelectric behavior was changed from p-type to n-type with increasing Al occupancy. Power factor and ZT values measured in this study were found to be in the same range as the best values previously reported. This original synthesis process is found to be less precursor-consuming as compared to previous synthesis processes, and strikingly, less time-consuming, as the synthesis time, is shortened from 8 h to 5 min for p-type and to 1 h for n-type. The total process time is shortened from ≥3 days to ~4–5 h. This discovery opens the door for more accessible synthesis of complex borides.
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