Infoscience

Journal article

Efficient Photothermoelectric Conversion in Lateral Topological Insulator Heterojunctions

Tuning the electron and phonon transport properties of thermoelectric materials by nanostructuring has enabled improving their thermopower figure of merit. Three-dimensional topological insulators, including many bismuth chalcogenides, attract increasing attention for this purpose, as their topologically protected surface states are promising to further enhance the thermoelectric performance. While individual bismuth chalcogenide nanostructures have been studied with respect to their photothermoelectric properties, nanostructured p-n junctions of these compounds have not yet been explored. Here, we experimentally investigate the room temperature thermoelectric conversion capability of lateral heterostructures consisting of two different three-dimensional topological insulators, namely, the n-type doped Bi2Te2Se and the p-type doped Sb2Te3. Scanning photocurrent microscopy of the nanoplatelets reveals efficient thermoelectric conversion at the p-n heterojunction, exploiting hot carriers of opposite sign in the two materials. From the photocurrent data, a Seebeck coefficient difference of Delta S = 200 mu V/K was extracted, in accordance with the best values reported for the corresponding bulk materials. Furthermore, it is in very good agreement with the value of Delta S = 185 mu V/K obtained by DFT calculation taking into account the specific doping levels of the two nanostructured components.

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