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Experimental Identification of Critical Condition for Drastically Enhancing Thermoelectric Power Factor of Two-Dimensional Layered Materials

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-11-27, 00:00 authored by Junwen Zeng, Xin He, Shi-Jun Liang, Erfu Liu, Yuanhui Sun, Chen Pan, Yu Wang, Tianjun Cao, Xiaowei Liu, Chenyu Wang, Lili Zhang, Shengnan Yan, Guangxu Su, Zhenlin Wang, Kenji Watanabe, Takashi Taniguchi, David J. Singh, Lijun Zhang, Feng Miao
Nanostructuring is an extremely promising path to high-performance thermoelectrics. Favorable improvements in thermal conductivity are attainable in many material systems, and theoretical work points to large improvements in electronic properties. However, realization of the electronic benefits in practical materials has been elusive experimentally. A key challenge is that experimental identification of the quantum confinement length, below which the thermoelectric power factor is significantly enhanced, remains elusive due to lack of simultaneous control of size and carrier density. Here we investigate gate-tunable and temperature-dependent thermoelectric transport in γ-phase indium selenide (γ-InSe, n-type semiconductor) samples with thickness varying from 7 to 29 nm. This allows us to properly map out dimension and doping space. Combining theoretical and experimental studies, we reveal that the sharper pre-edge of the conduction-band density of states arising from quantum confinement gives rise to an enhancement of the Seebeck coefficient and the power factor in the thinner InSe samples. Most importantly, we experimentally identify the role of the competition between quantum confinement length and thermal de Broglie wavelength in the enhancement of power factor. Our results provide an important and general experimental guideline for optimizing the power factor and improving the thermoelectric performance of two-dimensional layered semiconductors.