• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 12, No 6 (2021)

Theoretical Power Output of Thermoelectric Power Generator based on Metal Oxide Semiconductor

Theoretical Power Output of Thermoelectric Power Generator based on Metal Oxide Semiconductor

Title: Theoretical Power Output of Thermoelectric Power Generator based on Metal Oxide Semiconductor
Mohamad Adam Shah Mohd Roseny, Suhasini Sathiyamoorthy, Mohd Faizul Mohd Sabri, Suhana Mohd Said, Pandiyarasan Veluswamy, Faiz Salleh

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Mohd Roseny, M.A.S., Sathiyamoorthy, S., Mohd Sabri, M.F., Mohd Said, S., Veluswamy, P., Salleh, F., 2021. Theoretical Power Output of Thermoelectric Power Generator based on Metal Oxide Semiconductor. International Journal of Technology. Volume 12(6), pp. 1112-1122

Mohamad Adam Shah Mohd Roseny Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
Suhasini Sathiyamoorthy Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Kattankulathur 603203, India
Mohd Faizul Mohd Sabri Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
Suhana Mohd Said Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
Pandiyarasan Veluswamy School of Interdisciplinary Design and Innovation, Indian Institute of Information Technology Design and Manufacturing Kancheepuram, Chennai 600127, India
Faiz Salleh Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia
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Theoretical Power Output of Thermoelectric Power Generator based on Metal Oxide Semiconductor

Optimizing the structure and material combination of thermoelectric power generators (TEGs) is essential to their efficiency. In order to develop an efficient TEG based on an oxide semiconductor, we theoretically simulated the power output of a TEG based on potential oxide semiconductors (ZnO, TiO2, and CuO) combined with electrode materials (Au, Ag, Cu, graphene, graphite, ITO, IZO, and AZO), and determined the influence of this material combination on the TEG’s power output. In this study, the power output was evaluated from simulated heat distribution and output voltage of a single leg and thermopiles using a simulator. The combination of ZnO and graphene showed the highest power output. This is likely due to the high thermal conductivity of graphene which allowed a high temperature difference in the ZnO. Moreover, the power output increased with decreasing electrode thickness, which allowed high output voltage to be generated by the thermoelectric material. The power density of the TEG consisting of several thermopiles based on ZnO and graphene materials was 29 mW/cm2, which was comparable with that of the reported TEG consisting of Te-based materials. Thus, a TEG based on oxide semiconductor materials could be developed to reduce the use of harmful thermoelectric materials.

Electrode; Oxide semiconductor; Thermoelectric material; Thermoelectric power generator


The increased demand for electricity has caused major environmental issues, such as resource depletion, pollution, and climate change, due to the use of conventional electrical power generation. These issues have encouraged researchers to develop alternative technologies that use renewable and clean energy resources when generating electricity. Of these, thermoelectric technology is one of the best at directly converting clean energy resources into electricity. Thermoelectric power generators (TEGs) apply thermoelectric effects to directly convert waste heat into electricity, and many researchers have focused on their development due to their known advantages, such as a long lifespan, noiselessness, and low maintenance needs (Musia? et al., 2016). However, the thermoelectric conversion efficiency of TEGs is still low compared to other clean technologies, such as solar cells. Moreover, most commercial TEGs are fabricated using rare and harmful materials, such as Bi2Te3 and PbTe. Thus, developing an efficient TEG using a low-cost, simple fabrication process and environmentally friendly materials is important.

The introduction of nanostructure, optimization of TEG structure, and formulation of new thermoelectric materials are approaches that have been used by researchers to improve the power output of TEGs. Specifically, Te-based thermoelectric materials have shown improvements in power output when applied to TEGs. Thus, commercialized TEGs are mostly based on these materials due to their high power output. They generate a power density of a few mW/cm2 under temperature differences of a few tens to hundreds Kelvin in low-temperature application regions (Narducci, 2019). In contrast, oxide materials are abundant, low cost, non-toxic, and chemically stable at high temperatures, which makes them ideal materials for fabricating TEGs (Vieira et al., 2021). Thus, a number of researchers have reported the used of oxide materials for realizing an efficient TEG. For example, Matsubara fabricated a TEG based on Ca0.92La0.08MnO3 and Ca2.75Gd0.25Co4O9 as n- and p-type thermoelectric legs, respectively, and they reported a power output of 21 mW/cm2 at a temperature of ~ 851 K (Matsubara et al., 2001). In 2018, Kanas reported a higher power output of 23 mW/cm2 at a much higher temperature of ~ 1173 K using a TEG fabricated with CaMnO3???CaMn2O4 and Ca3Co4?xO9+? as the n- and p-type thermoelectric legs, respectively (Kanas et al., 2018). These promising power output values were obtained in a high-temperature region, showing that the oxide material is well suited for application in these temperature regions. Therefore, clarifying the potential of oxide materials for application in near-room-temperature regions is necessary to support current self-powered technologies that are used in these temperature regions.

TEGs’ structure and appropriate material combination also play an important role in improving their power output. Kanas reported an enhancement of a TEG’s power output to 28.9 mW/cm2 by improving the p-n junction and the cell design (Kanas et al., 2020). Lim reported a comparable power density of 93.2 mW/cm2 in a TEG based on Ca3Co4O9, CaMnO3, and (Zn)7In2O3 materials and found that the contact resistance between electrode materials greatly affected the power output of the TEG in high-temperature regions (Lim et al., 2013). The influence of geometrical design and contact resistance on TEG performance has also been observed in commercial TEGs based on Te materials. Ebling found that contact resistance governs TEG performance and that performance is not increased by varying the leg length (Ebling et al., 2010). In a theoretical work on a TEG based on SnSe and Bi0.5Sb1.5Te3, it is also observed that the performance of TEGs can be improved by decreasing contact resistance (Luo and Kim, 2019). Thus, clarifying the suitable combination of available oxide semiconductors and electrode materials, as well as the influence of contact resistance and electrode thickness on the TEG’s performance, are significantly important for formulating an efficient TEG based on oxide materials, especially for room-temperature application regions. Therefore, in order to clarify the best combination of potential oxide semiconductor materials and available electrode materials for room-temperature application TEGs, this study simulated the power output of a single-leg and thermopile-structured TEG with a combination of ZnO, TiO2, and CuO as thermoelectric materials and Au, Ag, Cu, graphene, graphite, ITO, IZO, and AZO as electrode materials. The influence of this material combination on the TEG’s power output was then discussed in terms of contact resistance, thermoelectric properties, and thickness of the electrode materials.


    In order to propose an efficient TEG based on oxide semiconductor materials, we demonstrated a theoretical calculation of the power output of a TEG based on oxide semiconductors (ZnO, TiO2, and CuO) as thermoelectric materials combined with electrode materials (Au, Ag, Cu, graphene, graphite, ITO, IZO, and AZO). The combination of n- and p-type ZnO and graphene in the thermopile legs showed the highest power output due to the high thermal conductivity of graphene, which allowed a high temperature difference to be applied in ZnO. Moreover, the power output increased with decreasing thickness of the electrode, which allowed high open-circuit voltage (thermoelectromotive force) to be generated by ZnO. The evaluated power density of the proposed TEG based on optimized conditions was simulated to be 29 mW/cm2 at a temperature difference of 120 K, which was comparable with the conventional TEG based on Te materials. Therefore, a TEG based on oxide semiconductor materials could be developed to reduce the use of rare and harmful materials in TEGs.


    This work was financially supported by the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FP092-2020)(FRGS/1/2020/TK0/UM/02/25) from the Ministry of Higher Education and RU Grant-Faculty Program (GPF014A-2019) from Universiti Malaya. The authors would also like to thank the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Faculty Program through the Department of Science and Technology (DST) funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology (DST/INSPIRE/04/2017/ 002629).


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