Electronic and thermal transport study of sinusoidally corrugated nanowires aiming to improve thermoelectric efficiency

KH Park and PN Martin and U Ravaioli, NANOTECHNOLOGY, 27, 035401 (2016).

DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/27/3/035401

Improvement of thermoelectric efficiency has been very challenging in the solid-state industry due to the interplay among transport coefficients which measure the efficiency. In this work, we modulate the geometry of nanowires to interrupt thermal transport with causing only a minimal impact on electronic transport properties, thereby maximizing the thermoelectric power generation. As it is essential to scrutinize comprehensively both electronic and thermal transport behaviors for nano-scale thermoelectric devices, we investigate the Seebeck coefficient, the electrical conductance, and the thermal conductivity of sinusoidally corrugated silicon nanowires and eventually look into an enhancement of the thermoelectric figure-of-merit ZT from the modulated nanowires over typical straight nanowires. A loss in the electronic transport coefficient is calculated with the recursive Green function along with the Landauer formalism, and the thermal transport is simulated with the molecular dynamics. In contrast to a small influence on the thermopower and the electrical conductance of the geometry- modulated nanowires, a large reduction of the thermal conductivity yields an enhancement of the efficiency by 10% to 35% from the typical nanowires. We find that this approach can be easily extended to various structures and materials as we consider the geometrical modulation as a sole source of perturbation to the system.

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