Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period

11-8-2016

Degree Program

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (M.S.E.C.E.)

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

February

Advisor Name

Zlatan

Advisor Last Name

Aksamija

Abstract

An increasing need for effective thermal sensors, together with dwindling energy resources, have created renewed interests in thermoelectric (TE), or solid-state, energy conversion and refrigeration using semiconductor-based nanostructures. Effective control of electron and phonon transport due to confinement, interface, and quantum effects has made nanostructures a good way to achieve more efficient thermoelectric energy conversion. This thesis studies the two well-known approaches: confinement and energy filtering, and implements improvements to achieve higher thermoelectric performance. The effect of confinement is evaluated using a 2D material with a gate and utilizing the features in the density of states. In addition to that, a novel controlled scattering approach is taken to enhance the device thermoelectric properties. The shift in the onset of scattering due to controlled scattering with respect to sharp features in the density of states creates a window shape for transport integral. Along with the controlled scattering, an effective utilization of Fermi window can provide a considerable enhancement in thermoelectric performance. The conclusion from the results helps in selection of materials to achieve such enhanced thermoelectric performance. In addition to that, the electron filtering approach is studied using the Wigner approach for treating the carrier-potential interactions, coupled with Boltzmann transport equation which is solved using Rode's iterative method, especially in periodic potential structures. This study shows the effect of rapid potential variations in materials as seen in superlattices and the parameters that have significant contribution towards the thermoelectric performance. Parameters such as period length, height and smoothness of such periodic potentials are studied and their effect on thermoelectric performance is discussed. A combination of the above two methods can help in understanding the effect of confinement and key requirements in designing a nanostructured thermoelectric device that has a enhanced performance.

First Advisor

Zlatan Aksamija