Engineering efficient thermoelectrics from large-scale assemblies of doped ZnO nanowires: nanoscale effects and resonant-level scattering.
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Recent studies focusing on enhancing the thermoelectric performance of metal oxides were primarily motivated by their low cost, large availability of the component elements in the earth's crust, and their high stability. So far, these studies indicate that n-type materials, such as ZnO, have much lower thermoelectric performance than their p-type counterparts. Overcoming this limitation requires precisely tuning the thermal and electrical transport through n-type metal oxides. One way to accomplish this is through the use of optimally doped bulk assemblies of ZnO nanowires. In this study, the thermoelectric properties of n-type aluminum and gallium dually doped bulk assembles of ZnO nanowires were determined. The results indicated that a high zT of 0.6 at 1000 C, the highest experimentally observed for any n-type oxide, is possible. The high performance is attributed to the tailoring of the ZnO phase composition, nanostructuring of the material, and Zn-III band hybridization-based resonant scattering.