This paper documents that consolidation and subsequent severe plastic deformation of commercial skutterudite powders via high pressure torsion (HPT) serves for an easy, fast, cheap and sustainable production method for excellent n-type skutterudite bulks, (Sm,Mm)0.15Co4Sb12, with high ZT values. Large cylindrical samples with 30 mm in diameter and 8 mm thickness (∼55 g) were successfully prepared in one step. These large samples enabled for the first time to (i) study the influence of shear strain on the micro-structural, thermoelectric and mechanical properties by analysing specimens cut from various positions of the HPT disks and (ii) to evaluate these properties orientation sensitive. These investigations were supported by electron probe microanalyses, transmission electron microscopy as well as XPD full profile analyses, XPS, Raman and Hall measurements. Whilst the orientation dependence on the electrical and thermal conductivity is found to be rather weak, the applied shear strain has a pronounced influence, as with increasing strains the thermal conductivity was reduced to the targeted levels. This beneficial effect, however, is accompanied by a massive increase of the electrical resistivity. ZT values turned out to be rather homogeneous over the entire sample with ZT∼1.3 at 850 K.
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