A two-step method that combines homogeneous electron beam (EB) irradiation and thermal annealing has been developed to enhance the thermoelectric properties of nanocrystalline bismuth selenium telluride thin films. The thin films, prepared using a flash evaporation method, were treated with EB irradiation in a N2 atmosphere at room temperature and an acceleration voltage of 0.17MeV. Thermal annealing was performed under Ar/H2 (5%) at 300°C for 60min. X-ray diffraction was used to determine that compositional phase separation between bismuth telluride and bismuth selenium telluride developed in the thin films exposed to higher EB doses and thermal annealing. We propose that the phase separation was induced by fluctuations in the distribution of selenium atoms after EB irradiation, followed by the migration of selenium atoms to more stable sites during thermal annealing. As a result, thin film crystallinity improved and mobility was significantly enhanced. This indicates that the phase separation resulting from the two-step method enhanced, rather than disturbed, the electron transport. Both the electrical conductivity and the Seebeck coefficient were improved following the two-step method. Consequently, the power factor of thin films that underwent the two-step method was enhanced to 20 times (from 0.96 to 21.0μW/(cmK2) that of the thin films treated with EB irradiation alone.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)