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Tailoring of Seebeck coefficient with surface roughness effects in silicon sub-50-nm films

Manoj Kumar1, Anjana Bagga2* and S Neeleshwar2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi-110016, India

2 University School of Basic and Applied Sciences, GGS Indraprastha University, Dwarka, New Delhi-110075, India

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:169  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-169

Published: 5 March 2012


The effect of surface roughness on the Seebeck coefficient in the sub-50-nm scale silicon ultra thin films is investigated theoretically using nonequilibrium Green's function formalism. For systematic studies, the surface roughness is modelled by varying thickness periodically with square wave profile characterized by two parameters: amplitude (A0) and wavelength (λ). Since high Seebeck coefficient is obtained if the temperature difference between the ends of device produces higher currents and higher induced voltages, we investigate how the generated current and induced voltage is affected with increasing A0 and λ. The theoretical investigations show that pseudoperiodicity of the device structure gives rise to two effects: firstly the threshold energy at which the transmission of current starts is shifted towards higher energy sides and secondly transmission spectra of current possess pseudobands and pseudogaps. The width of the pseudobands and their occupancies determine the total generated current. It is found that current decreases with increasing A0 but shows a complicated trend with λ. The trends of threshold energy determine the trends of Seebeck voltage with roughness parameters. The increase in threshold energy makes the current flow in higher energy levels. Thus, the Seebeck voltage, i.e. voltage required to nullify this current, increases. Increase in Seebeck voltage results in increase in Seebeck coefficient. We find that threshold energy increases with increasing A0 and frequency (1/λ). Hence, Seebeck voltage and Seebeck coefficient increase vice versa. It is observed that Seebeck coefficient is tuneable with surface roughness parameters.