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5 May 2011 Nanostructured silicon for thermoelectric
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Thermoelectric modules convert thermal energy into electrical energy and vice versa. At present bismuth telluride is the most widely commercial used material for thermoelectric energy conversion. There are many applications where bismuth telluride modules are installed, mainly for refrigeration. However, bismuth telluride as material for energy generation in large scale has some disadvantages. Its availability is limited, it is hot stable at higher temperatures (>250°C) and manufacturing cost is relatively high. An alternative material for energy conversion in the future could be silicon. The technological processing of silicon is well advanced due to the rapid development of microelectronics in recent years. Silicon is largely available and environmentally friendly. The operating temperature of silicon thermoelectric generators can be much higher than of bismuth telluride. Today silicon is rarely used as a thermoelectric material because of its high thermal conductivity. In order to use silicon as an efficient thermoelectric material, it is necessary to reduce its thermal conductivity, while maintaining high electrical conductivity and high Seebeck coefficient. This can be done by nanostructuring into arrays of pillars. Fabrication of silicon pillars using ICP-cryogenic dry etching (Inductive Coupled Plasma) will be described. Their uniform height of the pillars allows simultaneous connecting of all pillars of an array. The pillars have diameters down to 180 nm and their height was selected between 1 micron and 10 microns. Measurement of electrical resistance of single silicon pillars will be presented which is done in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) equipped with nanomanipulators. Furthermore, measurement of thermal conductivity of single pillars with different diameters using the 3ω method will be shown.
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A. Stranz, J. Kähler, A. Waag, and E. Peiner "Nanostructured silicon for thermoelectric", Proc. SPIE 8066, Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS V, 80662I (5 May 2011);

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