What is it about?

Geometry modulation provides a unique tool to engineer electron and phonon states and transport properties. Quantum interference between propagating and scattered waves at geometrical discontinuities modify transmission. Energy fluctuations of the transmission probability result in enhanced thermoelectric effects. Thermal conduction can be geometrically tuned and drastically decreased. We explore the role of periodicity in the geometry modulation profile in the electron and phonon properties. We emphasize the importance of the interplay between order and disorder. We show that this class of metamaterials provides a unique possibility: designing the geometry-modulation profile to optimize electron- against phonon transport and achieve efficient thermoelectric energy conversion and heat management at the nanoscale..

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Why is it important?

Thermoelectric metamaterials are promising for breakthrough in thermoelectrics and heat management at the nanoscale. They could ideally power the IoT. Generic principles of operation boost prospects to make technologically important materials (e.g Si, III-Vs, graphene) efficient thermoelectric materials. Geometrically-enhanced thermoelectric properties and controlled heat conduction can cooperate with other functionalities of metamaterials for next-generation nano-devices.

Perspectives

This article is devoted to main physics mechanisms in the operation of geometry-modulated nanowaveguides as thermoelectric and heat metamaterials in the quantum confinement regime. Very importantly, it provides an overview on electron and phonon properties in the same nanostructures. This is necessary in order to evaluate the potential of thermoelectric metamaterials. Geometrical design strategies are indicated for efficient thermoelectric conversion and heat management at the nanoscale.

Xanthippi Zianni
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

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This page is a summary of: Thermoelectric Metamaterials: Nano‐Waveguides for Thermoelectric Energy Conversion and Heat Management at the Nanoscale, Advanced Electronic Materials, April 2021, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/aelm.202100176.
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