The Seebeck coefficient (S) of composite nano-structures is theoretically explored within a self-consistent electro-thermal transport simulation framework using the non-equilibrium Green’s function method and a heat diffusion equation. Seebeck coefficients are determined using numerical techniques that mimic experimental measurements. Simulation results show that, without energy relaxing scattering, the overall S of a composite structure is determined by the highest barrier within the device. For a diffusive, composite structure with energy relaxation due to electron-phonon scattering, however, the measured Sis an average of the position-dependent values with the weighting factor being the lattice temperature gradient. The results stress the importance of self-consistent solutions of phonon heat transport and the resulting lattice temperature distribution in understanding the thermoelectric properties of a compositestructure. It is also clarified that the measured S of a composite structure reflects its power generation performance rather than its cooling performance. The results suggest that the lattice thermal conductivity within the composite structure might be engineered to improve the power factor over the bulk by avoiding the conventional trade-off between S and the electrical conductivity.
Date of this Version
Computational study of the Seebeck coefficient of one-dimensional composite nano-structures. Raseong Kim and Mark S. Lundstrom. J. Appl. Phys. 110, 034511 (2011)