The principle of using naturally occurring minerals as models for synthetic compositions in materials research has been successfully employed in cases such as the ferromagnetic rare earth iron garnets (Gd3Fe5O12, for example) which can be derived from the mineral grossularite (Ca3AlSi3O12) by substituting iron for the aluminum and silicon and restoring electroneutrality by introducing the trivalent rare earths for the divalent calcium, or the thermoelectric composition AgSbSe2 which is a selenide analog of the mineral miargyrite AgSbS2. With a similar consideration in mind, we planned to use the mineral schirmerite (PbAg4Bi4S9) as a model for a selenide or telluride analog in the hope of finding a useful thermoelectric composition.

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