Near-field three-terminal thermoelectric heat engine.
We propose a near-field inelastic thermoelectric heat engine where quantum-dots are used to effectively rectify the charge flow of photo-carriers. The device converts near-field heat radiation into useful electrical power. Heat absorption and inelastic transport can be enhanced by introducing two continuous spectra separated by an energy gap. The thermoelectric transport properties of the heat engine are studied in the linear-response regime. Using a small band-gap semiconductor as the absorption material, we show that the device achieves very large thermopower and thermoelectric figure-of-merit, as well as considerable power-factor. By analyzing thermal-photo-carrier generation and conduction, we reveal that the Seebeck coefficient and the figure of merit have oscillatory dependence on the thickness of the vacuum gap. Meanwhile, the power-factor, the charge and thermal conductivity are significantly improved by near-field radiation. Conditions and guiding principles for powerful and efficient thermoelectric heat engines are discussed in details.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1711.04215