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ENHANCEMENT OF THERMOELECTRIC PROPERTIES THROUGH POLARIZATION ENGINEERING

United States Patent Application

20140318592
A1
View the Complete Application at the US Patent & Trademark Office
A method for enhancement of thermoelectric properties through polarization engineering. Internal electric fields created within a material are used to spatially confine electrons for the purpose of enhancing thermoelectric properties. Electric fields can be induced within a material by the presence of bound charges at interfaces. A combination of spontaneous and piezoelectric polarization can induce this interfacial charge. The fields created by these bound charges have the effect of confining charge carriers near these interfaces. By confining charge carriers to a channel where scattering centers can be deliberately excluded the electron mobility can be enhanced, thus enhancing thermoelectric power factor. Simultaneously, phonons will not be affected by the fields and thus will be subject to the many scattering centers present in the majority of the structure. This allows for simultaneous enhancement of power factor and reduction of thermal conductivity, thus improving the thermoelectric figure of merit, ZT. This approach is also compatible with other strategies for reducing thermal conductivity, for example the inclusion of nanostructures.
Sztein, Alexander (Goleta, CA), Bowers, John E. (Santa Barbara, CA), DenBaars, Steven P. (Goleta, CA)
THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA (Oakland CA)
14/ 367,087
December 14, 2012
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT [0005] This invention was made with Government support under Grant No. DE-SC0001009 awarded by the Center For Energy Efficient Materials of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.