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Rev Sci Instrum. 2012 Sep;83(9):093905.

Measurement of the high-temperature Seebeck coefficient of thin films by means of an epitaxially regrown thermometric reference material.

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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93117, USA.


The Seebeck coefficient of a typical thermoelectric material, silicon-doped InGaAs lattice-matched to InP, is measured over a temperature range from 300 K to 550 K. By depositing and patterning a thermometric reference bar of silicon-doped InP adjacent to a bar of the material under test, temperature differences are measured directly. This is in contrast to conventional two-thermocouple techniques that subtract two large temperatures to yield a small temperature difference, a procedure prone to errors. The proposed technique retains the simple instrumentation of two-thermocouple techniques while eliminating the critical dependence of the latter on good thermal contact. The repeatability of the proposed technique is demonstrated to be ±2.6% over three temperature sweeps, while the repeatability of two-thermocouple measurements is about ±5%. The improved repeatability is significant for reliable reporting of the ZT figure of merit, which is proportional to the square of the Seebeck coefficient. The accuracy of the proposed technique depends on the accuracy with which the high-temperature Seebeck coefficient of the reference material may be computed or measured. In this work, the Seebeck coefficient of the reference material, n+ InP, is computed by rigorous solution of the Boltzmann transport equation. The accuracy and repeatability of the proposed technique can be systematically improved by scaling, and the method is easily extensible to other material systems currently being investigated for high thermoelectric energy conversion efficiency.

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