Article | Published:

Resonant thermoelectric nanophotonics

Nature Nanotechnology volume 12, pages 770775 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

Photodetectors are typically based either on photocurrent generation from electron–hole pairs in semiconductor structures or on bolometry for wavelengths that are below bandgap absorption. In both cases, resonant plasmonic and nanophotonic structures have been successfully used to enhance performance. Here, we show subwavelength thermoelectric nanostructures designed for resonant spectrally selective absorption, which creates large localized temperature gradients even with unfocused, spatially uniform illumination to generate a thermoelectric voltage. We show that such structures are tunable and are capable of wavelength-specific detection, with an input power responsivity of up to 38 V W–1, referenced to incident illumination, and bandwidth of nearly 3 kHz. This is obtained by combining resonant absorption and thermoelectric junctions within a single suspended membrane nanostructure, yielding a bandgap-independent photodetection mechanism. We report results for both bismuth telluride/antimony telluride and chromel/alumel structures as examples of a potentially broader class of resonant nanophotonic thermoelectric materials for optoelectronic applications such as non-bandgap-limited hyperspectral and broadband photodetectors.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    & Plasmonics for improved photovoltaic devices. Nat. Mater. 9, 205–213 (2010).

  2. 2.

    & On the temperature dependence of photovoltaic module electrical performance: a review of efficiency/power correlations. Solar Energy 83, 614–624 (2009).

  3. 3.

    & Simple thermal detection of surface plasmon-polaritons. Solid State Commun. 56, 493–496 (1985).

  4. 4.

    et al. Thermo-electric detection of waveguided surface plasmon propagation. Appl. Phys. Lett. 99, 031113 (2011).

  5. 5.

    et al. Optical generation of intense ultrashort magnetic pulses at the nanoscale. New J. Phys. 15, 113035 (2013).

  6. 6.

    et al. Sensitive room-temperature terahertz detection via the photothermoelectric effect in graphene. Nat. Nanotech. 9, 814–819 (2014).

  7. 7.

    , , , & Photo-thermoelectric effect at a graphene interface junction. Nano Lett. 10, 562–566 (2010).

  8. 8.

    et al. A nanostructured long-wave infrared range thermocouple detector. IEEE Trans. Terahertz Sci. Technol. 5, 335–343 (2015).

  9. 9.

    , , & Novel nanoscale single-metal polarization-sensitive infrared detectors. IEEE Trans. Nanotechnol. 14, 379–383 (2015).

  10. 10.

    , & High detectivity uncooled thermal detectors with resonant cavity coupled absorption in the long-wave infrared. IEEE Trans. Electron Dev. 16, 2586–2591 (2013).

  11. 11.

    & High-sensitivity and detectivity radiation thermopiles made by multilayer technology. Sensor Actuat. A 24, 1–4 (1990).

  12. 12.

    et al. Graphene-based thermopile for thermal imaging applications. Nano Lett. 15, 7211–7216 (2015).

  13. 13.

    et al. High-performance flat-panel solar thermoelectric generators with high thermal concentration. Nat. Mater. 10, 532–538 (2011).

  14. 14.

    & Solar thermoelectric generator for micropower applications. J. Electron. Mater. 39, 1735–1740 (2010).

  15. 15.

    , , & Optical design of nanowire absorbers for wavelength selective photodetectors. Sci. Rep. 5, 15339 (2015).

  16. 16.

    et al. Wavelength selective quantum dot infrared photodetector with periodic metal hole arrays. Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 163107 (2007).

  17. 17.

    , & Resonant wavelength selective photodetectors. Microelectron. Eng. 19, 223–228 (1992).

  18. 18.

    , & Enhancement of the thermoelectric properties in nanoscale and nanostructured materials. J. Mater. Chem. 21, 4037–4055 (2011).

  19. 19.

    & Nanoscale Thermoelectrics (Springer Science + Business Media, 2013).

  20. 20.

    & Thermoelectric Nanomaterials: Materials Design and Applications (Springer, 2013).

  21. 21.

    Effects of configuration interaction on intensities and phase shifts. Phys. Rev. 124, 1866–1878 (1961).

  22. 22.

    et al. Optical properties of planar metallic photonic crystal structures: experiment and theory. Phys. Rev. B 70, 125113 (2004).

  23. 23.

    & Influence of electromagnetic interactions on the line shape of plasmonic Fano resonances. ACS Nano 5, 8999–9008 (2011).

  24. 24.

    et al. Infrared dielectric properties of low-stress silicon nitride. Opt. Lett. 37, 4200–4202 (2012).

  25. 25.

    Handbook of Optical Constants of Solids (Academic, 1998).

  26. 26.

    et al. High-thermoelectric performance of nanostructured bismuth antimony telluride bulk alloys. Science 320, 634–638 (2008).

  27. 27.

    , , & Quantum dot superlattice thermoelectric materials and devices. Science 297, 2229–2232 (2002).

  28. 28.

    , , & Probing and controlling photothermal heat generation in plasmonic nanostructures. Nano Lett. 13, 1023–1028 (2013).

  29. 29.

    , , & A perfect absorber made of a graphene micro-ribbon metamaterial. Opt. Express 20, 28017–28024 (2012).

  30. 30.

    , , & Broadband polarization-independent resonant light absorption using ultrathin plasmonic super absorbers. Nat. Commun. 2, 517 (2011).

  31. 31.

    , & Dual-band perfect absorber for multispectral plasmon-enhanced infrared spectroscopy. ACS Nano 6, 7998–8006 (2012).

  32. 32.

    , , , & Infrared perfect absorber and its application as plasmonic sensor. Nano Lett. 10, 2342–2348 (2010).

  33. 33.

    , , , & Perfect metamaterial absorber. Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 207402 (202008).

  34. 34.

    FDTD Solutions (Lumerical);

  35. 35.

    COMSOL Multiphysics v. 5.2 (COMSOL AB);

  36. 36.

    , , & Formulation for stable and efficient implementation of the rigorous coupled-wave analysis of binary gratings. J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 12, 1068–1076 (1995).

  37. 37.

    & Thermostat for high temperature and transient characterization of thin film thermoelectric materials. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 80, 025101 (2009).

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported primarily by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science grant DE-FG02-07ER46405. S.K. acknowledges support by a Samsung Scholarship. The authors thank M. Jones for discussions.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Thomas J. Watson Laboratory of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA

    • Kelly W. Mauser
    • , Seyoon Kim
    • , Dagny Fleischman
    • , Ragip Pala
    • , K. C. Schwab
    •  & Harry A. Atwater
  2. Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA

    • Slobodan Mitrovic
  3. Kavli Nanoscience Institute, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA

    • Harry A. Atwater

Authors

  1. Search for Kelly W. Mauser in:

  2. Search for Seyoon Kim in:

  3. Search for Slobodan Mitrovic in:

  4. Search for Dagny Fleischman in:

  5. Search for Ragip Pala in:

  6. Search for K. C. Schwab in:

  7. Search for Harry A. Atwater in:

Contributions

K.W.M. and H.A.A. conceived the ideas. K.W.M. and S.K. performed the simulations. K.W.M. fabricated the samples. K.W.M. built the measurement set-ups specific to this study. K.W.M., S.M. and D.F. performed measurements, and K.W.M., S.K. and S.M. performed data analysis. K.S. contributed to the design and analysis of noise measurements. R.P. built a general-use measurement set-up and provided assistance with part of one supplementary measurement. K.W.M., H.A.A. and S.M. co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript, and H.A.A. supervised the project.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Harry A. Atwater.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary information

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2017.87

Further reading