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Advances in Thermionic Energy Conversion Through Single-Crystal n-Type Diamond

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Thermionic energy conversion, a process that allows direct transformation of thermal to electrical energy, presents a means of efficient electrical power generation as the hot and cold side of the

Thermionic energy conversion, a process that allows direct transformation of thermal to electrical energy, presents a means of efficient electrical power generation as the hot and cold side of the corresponding heat engine are separated by a vacuum gap. Conversion efficiencies approaching those of the Carnot cycle are possible if material parameters of the active elements at the converter, i.e., electron emitter or cathode and collector or anode, are optimized for operation in the desired temperature range.

These parameters can be defined through the law of Richardson–Dushman that quantifies the ability of a material to release an electron current at a certain temperature as a function of the emission barrier or work function and the emission or Richardson constant. Engineering materials to defined parameter values presents the key challenge in constructing practical thermionic converters. The elevated temperature regime of operation presents a constraint that eliminates most semiconductors and identifies diamond, a wide band-gap semiconductor, as a suitable thermionic material through its unique material properties. For its surface, a configuration can be established, the negative electron affinity, that shifts the vacuum level below the conduction band minimum eliminating the surface barrier for electron emission.

In addition, its ability to accept impurities as donor states allows materials engineering to control the work function and the emission constant. Single-crystal diamond electrodes with nitrogen levels at 1.7 eV and phosphorus levels at 0.6 eV were prepared by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition where the work function was controlled from 2.88 to 0.67 eV, one of the lowest thermionic work functions reported. This work function range was achieved through control of the doping concentration where a relation to the amount of band bending emerged. Upward band bending that contributed to the work function was attributed to surface states where lower doped homoepitaxial films exhibited a surface state density of ∼3 × 10[superscript 11] cm[superscript −2]. With these optimized doped diamond electrodes, highly efficient thermionic converters are feasible with a Schottky barrier at the diamond collector contact mitigated through operation at elevated temperatures.

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  • 2017-12-06

Thermally enhanced photoinduced electron emission from nitrogen-doped diamond films on silicon substrates

Description

This work presents a spectroscopic study of the thermally enhanced photoinduced electron emission from nitrogen-doped diamond films prepared on p-type silicon substrates. It has been shown that photon-enhanced thermionic emission

This work presents a spectroscopic study of the thermally enhanced photoinduced electron emission from nitrogen-doped diamond films prepared on p-type silicon substrates. It has been shown that photon-enhanced thermionic emission (PETE) can substantially enhance thermionic emission intensity from a p-type semiconductor. An n-type diamond/p-type silicon structure was illuminated with 400–450 nm light, and the spectra of the emitted electrons showed a work function less than 2 eV and nearly an order of magnitude increase in emission intensity as the temperature was increased from ambient to ∼400 °C. Thermionic emission was negligible in this temperature range. The results are modeled in terms of contributions from PETE and direct photoelectron emission, and the large increase is consistent with a PETE component. The results indicate possible application in combined solar/thermal energy conversion devices.

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Date Created
  • 2014-09-15

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Temperature dependent simulation of diamond depleted Schottky PIN diodes

Description

Diamond is considered as an ideal material for high field and high power devices due to its high breakdown field, high lightly doped carrier mobility, and high thermal conductivity. The

Diamond is considered as an ideal material for high field and high power devices due to its high breakdown field, high lightly doped carrier mobility, and high thermal conductivity. The modeling and simulation of diamond devices are therefore important to predict the performances of diamond based devices. In this context, we use Silvaco[superscript ®] Atlas, a drift-diffusion based commercial software, to model diamond based power devices. The models used in Atlas were modified to account for both variable range and nearest neighbor hopping transport in the impurity bands associated with high activation energies for boron doped and phosphorus doped diamond. The models were fit to experimentally reported resistivity data over a wide range of doping concentrations and temperatures. We compare to recent data on depleted diamond Schottky PIN diodes demonstrating low turn-on voltages and high reverse breakdown voltages, which could be useful for high power rectifying applications due to the low turn-on voltage enabling high forward current densities. Three dimensional simulations of the depleted Schottky PIN diamond devices were performed and the results are verified with experimental data at different operating temperatures.

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Date Created
  • 2016-06-08