Nano-materials exhibit superior performance over bulk materials in a variety of applications such as direct heat to electricity thermoelectric generators (TEGs) and many more. However, a gap still exists for the integration of these nano-materials into practical applications. This study explores the feasibility of utilizing the advantages of nano-materials' thermo-electric properties, using regular bulk technology. Present-day TEGs are often applied by dedicated thermoelectric materials such as semiconductor alloys (e.g., PbTe, BiTe) whereas the standard semiconductor materials such as the doped silicon have not been widely addressed, with limited exceptions of nanowires. This study attempts to close the gap between the nano-materials' properties and the well-established bulk devices, approached for the first time by exploiting the nano-metric dimensions of the conductive channel in metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) structures. A significantly higher electrical current than expected from a bulk silicon device has been experimentally measured as a result of the application of a positive gate voltage and a temperature gradient between the “source” and the “drain” terminals of a commercial NMOS transistor. This finding implies on a “quasi-nanowire” behaviour of the transistor channel, which can be easily controlled by the transistor's gate voltage that is applied. This phenomenon enables a considerable improvement of silicon based TEGs, fabricated by traditional silicon technology. Four times higher ZT values (TEG quality factor) compared to conventional bulk silicon have been observed for an off-the-shelf silicon device. By optimizing the device, it is believed that even higher ZT values can be achieved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (all)