A silicon nanowire (SiNW) array-based thermoelectric generator (TEG)
was assembled and characterized. The SiNW array had pitch of 400
nm, and SiNW diameter and height of < 100 nm and similar to 1 m,
respectively. The SiNW array was formed using a top-down approach:
deep-ultraviolet (UV) lithography and dry reactive-ion etching. Specific
groups of SiNWs were doped - and -type using ion implantation, and
air gaps between the SiNWs were filled with silicon dioxide (SiO2).
The bottom and top electrodes were formed using a nickel silicidation
process and aluminum metallization, respectively. Temperature difference
across the TEG was generated with a heater and a commercial Peltier
cooler. A maximum open-circuit voltage of 2.7 mV was measured for
a temperature difference of 95 K across the whole experimental setup,
corresponding to power output of 4.6 nW. For further improvement,
we proposed the use of polyimide as a filler material to replace
SiO2. Polyimide, with a rated thermal conductivity value one order
of magnitude lower than that of SiO2, resulted in a larger measured
thermal resistance when used as a filler material in a SiNW array.
This advantage may be instrumental in future performance improvement
of SiNW TEGs.
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