, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 1667-1674

Scanning Seebeck Coefficient Measurement System for Homogeneity Characterization of Bulk and Thin-Film Thermoelectric Materials

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Larger-scale production of thermoelectric materials is necessary when mass-producing thermoelectric devices at industrial level. Certain fabrication techniques can create inhomogeneity in the material through composition and doping fluctuations throughout the sample, causing local variations in thermoelectric properties. Some variations are in the range of sub-millimeter scale or larger but may be difficult to detect by traditional materials characterization techniques such as x-ray diffraction or scanning electron microscopy when the chemical variation is small but the doping variation, which strongly affects thermoelectric performance, is large. In this paper, a scanning apparatus to directly detect local variations of Seebeck coefficient on both bulk and thin-film samples is used. Results have shown that this technique can be utilized for detection of defective regions, as well as phase separation in the 100-μm range or larger.