Bulk-Like Laminated Nitride Metal/Semiconductor Superlattices for Thermoelectric Devices

Jeremy L. Schroeder, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
David A. Ewoldt, Purdue University
Reja Amatya, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rajeev J. Ram, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ali Shakouri, University of California - Santa Cruz; Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Timothy D. Sands, Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center

Date of this Version



Bulk-like thermionic energy conversion devices have been fabricated from nanostructured nitride metal/semiconductor superlattices using a novel lamination process. 5-mu m thick (Hf0.5Zr0.5)N (6-nm)/ScN (6-nm) metal/semiconductor superlattices with a 12 nm period were deposited on 100-silicon substrates by reactive magnetron sputtering followed by a selective tetra methyl ammonium hydroxide substrate etching and a gold-gold lamination process to yield 300 mu m x 300 mu m x 290 mu m microscale thermionic energy conversion elements with 16,640 superlattice periods. The thermionic element had a Seebeck coefficient of -120 mu V/K at 800 K, an electrical conductivity of similar to 2500 Omega(-1)m(-1) at 800 K, and a thermal conductivity of 2.9 and 4.3 W/m-K at 300 and 625 K, respectively. The temperature dependence of the Seebeck coefficient from 300 to 800 K suggests a parallel parasitic conduction path that is dominant at low temperature, and the temperature independent electrical conductivity indicates that the (Hf0.5Zr0.5)N/gold interface contact resistivity currently dominates the device. The thermal conductivity of the laminate was significantly lower than the thermal conductivity of the individual metal or semiconductor layers, indicating the beneficial effect of the metal/semiconductor interfaces toward lowering the thermal conductivity. The described lamination process effectively bridges the gap between the nanoscale requirements needed to enhance the thermoelectric figure of merit ZT and the microscale requirements of real-world devices.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology