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.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
 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.