Thermoelectric materials are playing an increasingly significant role in the global effort to develop sustainable energy technologies. Consequently, the demand for materials with greater thermoelectric efficiency has stimulated the development of state-of-the-art interstitially doped skutterudite-based materials. However, since intermetallics are often embrittled by interstitial substitution, optimal skutterudite-based device design, manufacture, and operation require thorough assessment of the fracture toughness of interstitially doped skutterudites. This research determines whether the fracture toughness of skutterudites is sacrificed upon interstitial doping. Both pure and interstitially doped cobalt antimonide skutterudites were synthesized via a solid-state technique in a reducing atmosphere with antimony vapor. Their crystal structures were analyzed by X-ray diffraction, and then sintered by hot uniaxial pressing into dense pellets. The electronic properties of the sintered samples were characterized. Fracture toughness of the pure Co₄Sb₁₂ and interstitially doped In₀.₁Co₄Sb₁₂ samples was evaluated by the Vicker's indentation technique and by loading beam-shaped singe-edge vee-notched bend specimens (SEVNB) in 4-point flexure. The intrinsic crack-tip toughness of both materials was determined by
measuring the crack-tip opening displacements (COD's) of radial cracks introduced from Vicker's indentations. The intrinsic crack-tip toughness of both pure Co₄Sb₁₂ and interstitially doped In₀.₁Co₄Sb₁₂ were found to be similar, 0.523 and 0.494 MPa√m, respectively. The fracture toughness of both pure and interstitially doped skutterudites, derived from SEVNB specimens in 4-point flexure were also found to be statistically identical, 0.509 and 0.574 MPa√m , respectively, and are in agreement with the intrinsic crack-tip toughness values. However, the magnitude of the toughness was found to be much lower than previously reported. Moreover, fracture toughness values derived from Vickers's indentations were found to be misleading when compared to the results obtained from fracture toughness tests carried out on the micronotched (SEVNB) specimens loaded in 4-point flexure.