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Thermal Design of Highly-Efficient Thermoelectric Materials With Atomic-Scale Three-Dimensional Phononic Crystals

[+] Author Affiliations
Jean-Numa Gillet, Yann Chalopin, Sebastian Volz

Ecole Centrale Paris, Châtenay-Malabry, France

Paper No. IMECE2007-43538, pp. 1161-1168; 8 pages
  • ASME 2007 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 10: Mechanics of Solids and Structures, Parts A and B
  • Seattle, Washington, USA, November 11–15, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4304-1 | eISBN: 0-7918-3812-9
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


Owing to their thermal insulating properties, superlattices have been extensively studied. A breakthrough in the performance of thermoelectric devices was achieved by using superlattice materials. The problem of those nanostructured materials is that they mainly affect heat transfer in only one direction. In this paper, the concept of canceling heat conduction in the three spatial directions by using atomic-scale three-dimensional (3D) phononic crystals is explored. A period of our atomic-scale 3D phononic crystal is made up of a large number of diamond-like cells of silicon atoms, which form a square supercell. At the center of each supercell, we substitute a smaller number of Si diamond-like cells by other diamond-like cells, which are composed of germanium atoms. This elementary heterostructure is periodically repeated to form a Si/Ge 3D nanostructure. To obtain different atomic configurations of the phononic crystal, the number of Ge diamond-like cells at the center of each supercell can be varied by substitution of Si diamond-like cells. The dispersion curves of those atomic configurations can be computed by lattice dynamics. With a general equation, the thermal conductivity of our atomic-scale 3D phononic crystal can be derived from the dispersion curves. The thermal conductivity can be reduced by at least one order of magnitude in an atomic-scale 3D phononic crystal compared to a bulk material. This reduction is due to the decrease of the phonon group velocities without taking into account that of the phonon average mean free path.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME



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