Hydrogenated Nano-/Micro-Crystalline Silicon Thin-Films for Thermoelectrics

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Journal Article
Journal of Electronic Materials, 2018, 47 (6), pp. 3077 - 3084
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© 2017, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. Thermoelectric technology has not yet been able to reach full-scale market penetration partly because most commercial materials employed are scarce/costly, environmentally unfriendly and in addition provide low conversion efficiency. The necessity to tackle some of these hurdles leads us to investigate the suitability of n-type hydrogenated microcrystalline silicon (μc-Si: H) in the fabrication of thermoelectric devices, produced by plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD), which is a mature process of proven scalability. This study reports an approach to optimise the thermoelectric power factor (PF) by varying the dopant concentration by means of post-annealing without impacting film morphology, at least for temperatures below 550°C. Results show an improvement in PF of more than 80%, which is driven by a noticeable increase of carrier mobility and Seebeck coefficient in spite of a reduction in carrier concentration. A PF of 2.08 × 10−4 W/mK2 at room temperature is reported for n-type films of 1 μm thickness, which is in line with the best values reported in recent literature for similar structures.
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