What is it about?

Thermoelectric materials generate electric power by placing the material between object with a different temperature. This power is drawn out of the material by placing electrical contacts on the material. For efficiency it is important that the power drawn prom the material is not wasted to heat up the contacts. All contacts have a characteristic resistance, called contact resistance. We here derive how small the resistance should be for the thermoelectric material ZnSb. We measure this resistance systematically as a function of doping concentration ZnSb and as a function of temperature for contacts made by evaporating metal films of Cu , Ti or Ni onto ZnSb. We observe that the systematics is agreement with theory for electron transport from the metal film to the ZnSb thermoelectric material.

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Why is it important?

To make efficient use use of thermoelectric materials, the electrical contacts can limit the performance. Here we show that the performance depends on the steps taken. Here we show examples of steps to take that can yield a good performance for the material ZnSb. We also give examples of steps that giving less than favourable performance

Perspectives

It was fun working with the co-authors . We have worked on different issues about thermo electric materials over a long time. This wotk was challenging. I hope it can inspire others to work on the topics and see thtat there is a link or pathway between application related problems and progressing basic and fundumental understanding.

Terje Finstad
University of Oslo

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This page is a summary of: Metallization of ZnSb and contact resistance, Journal of Applied Physics, July 2021, American Institute of Physics, DOI: 10.1063/5.0043958.
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