Application of High-Throughput Seebeck Microprobe Measurements on Thermoelectric Half-Heusler Thin Film Combinatorial Material Libraries

Ziolkowski, P. and Wambach, M. and Ludwig, Al. and Mueller, E.

Volume: 20 Pages: 1-18
DOI: 10.1021/acscombsci.7b00019
Published: 2018

In view of the variety and complexity of thermoelectric (TE) material systems, combinatorial approaches to materials development come to the fore for identifying new promising compounds. The success of this approach is related to the availability and reliability of high-throughput characterization methods for identifying interrelations between materials structures and properties within the composition spread libraries. A meaningful characterization starts with determination of the Seebeck coefficient as a major feature of TE materials. Its measurement, and hence the accuracy and detectability of promising material compositions, may be strongly affected by thermal and electrical measurement conditions. This work illustrates the interrelated effects of the substrate material, the layer thickness, and spatial property distributions of thin film composition spread libraries, which are studied experimentally by local thermopower scans by means of the Potential and Seebeck Microprobe (PSM). The study is complemented by numerical evaluation. Material libraries of the half-Heusler compound system Ti-Ni-Sn were deposited on selected substrates (Si, AlN, Al2O3) by magnetron sputtering. Assuming homogeneous properties of a film, significant decrease of the detected thermopower Sm can be expected on substrates with higher thermal conductivity, yielding an underestimation of materials thermopower between 15% and 50%, according to FEM (finite element methods) simulations. Thermally poor conducting substrates provide a better accuracy with thermopower underestimates lower than 8%, but suffer from a lower spatial resolution. According to FEM simulations, local scanning of sharp thermopower peaks on lowly conductive substrates is linked to an additional deviation of the measured thermopower of up to 70% compared to homogeneous films, which is 66% higher than for corresponding cases on substrates with higher thermal conductivity of this study. © 2017 American Chemical Society.

« back