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Issue 2, 2012
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Resonant levels in bulk thermoelectric semiconductors

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Distortions of the electronic density of states (DOS) are a potent mechanism to increase the thermopower of thermoelectric semiconductors, thereby increasing their power factor. We review band-structure engineering approaches that have been used to achieve this, resonant impurity levels, dilute Kondo effects, and hybridization effects in strongly correlated electron systems. These can increase the thermoelectric power of metals and semiconductors through two mechanisms: (1) the added density of states increases the thermopower in a nearly temperature-independent way; (2) resonant scattering results in a strong electron energy filtering effect that increases the thermopower at cryogenic temperatures where the electron–phonon interactions are weaker. Electronic structure calculation results for Tl:PbTe and Ti:PbTe are contrasted and identify the origin of the thermopower enhancement in Tl:PbTe. This leads to a discussion of the conditions for DOS distortions to produce thermopower enhancements and illustrates the existence of an optimal degree of delocalization of the impurity states. The experimentally observed resonant levels in several III–V, II–VI, IV–VI and V2-VI3 compound semiconductor systems are reviewed.

Graphical abstract: Resonant levels in bulk thermoelectric semiconductors

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Article information

07 Sep 2011
17 Oct 2011
First published
04 Nov 2011

Energy Environ. Sci., 2012,5, 5510-5530
Article type
Review Article

Resonant levels in bulk thermoelectric semiconductors

J. P. Heremans, B. Wiendlocha and A. M. Chamoire, Energy Environ. Sci., 2012, 5, 5510
DOI: 10.1039/C1EE02612G

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