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Fabrication and characterization of a nanowire/polymer-based nanocomposite for a prototype thermoelectric device

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8 Author(s)
Abramson, A.R. ; Mech. & Aerosp. Eng. Dept., Case Western Reserve Univ., Cleveland, OH, USA ; Woo Chul Kim ; Huxtable, S.T. ; Haoquan Yan
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This paper discusses the design, fabrication and testing of a novel thermoelectric device comprised of arrays of silicon nanowires embedded in a polymer matrix. By exploiting the low-thermal conductivity of the composite and presumably high-power factor of the nanowires, a thermoelectric figure of merit, higher than the corresponding bulk value, should result. Arrays were first synthesized using a vapor-liquid-solid (VLS) process leading to one-dimensional (1-D) growth of single-crystalline nanowires. To provide structural support while maintaining thermal isolation between nanowires, parylene, a low thermal conductivity and extremely conformal polymer, was embedded within the arrays. Mechanical polishing and oxygen plasma etching techniques were used to expose the nanowire tips and a metal contact was deposited on the top surface. Scanning electron micrographs (SEMs) illustrate the results of the fabrication processes. Using a modification of the 3ω technique, the effective thermal conductivity of the nanowire matrix was measured and 1 V characteristics were also demonstrated. An assessment of the suitability of this nanocomposite for high thermoelectric performance devices is given.

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Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 3 )