Thermoelectric coefficients of n-doped silicon from first principles via the solution of the Boltzmann transport equation


We present a first-principles computational approach to calculate thermoelectric transport coefficients via the exact solution of the linearized Boltzmann transport equation, also including the effect of nonequilibrium phonon populations induced by a temperature gradient. We use density functional theory and density functional perturbation theory for an accurate description of the electronic and vibrational properties of a system, including electron-phonon interactions; carriers’ scattering rates are computed using standard perturbation theory. We exploit Wannier interpolation (both for electronic bands and electron-phonon matrix elements) for an efficient sampling of the Brillouin zone, and the solution of the Boltzmann equation is achieved via a fast and stable conjugate gradient scheme. We discuss the application of this approach to n-doped silicon. In particular, we discuss a number of thermoelectric properties such as the thermal and electrical conductivities of electrons, the Lorenz number and the Seebeck coefficient, including the phonon drag effect, in a range of temperatures and carrier concentrations. This approach gives results in good agreement with experimental data and provides a detailed characterization of the nature and the relative importance of the individual scattering mechanisms. Moreover, the access to the exact solution of the Boltzmann equation for a realistic system provides a direct way to assess the accuracy of different flavors of relaxation time approximation, as well as of models that are popular in the thermoelectric community to estimate transport coefficients.

Mattia Fiorentini and Nicola Bonini

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