Giant photothermoelectric effect in silicon nanoribbon photodetectors
The photothermoelectric (PTE) effect enables efficient harvesting of the energy of photogenerated hot carriers and is a promising choice for high-efficiency photoelectric energy conversion and photodetection. Recently, the PTE effect was reported in low-dimensional nanomaterials, suggesting the possibility of optimizing their energy conversion efficiency. Unfortunately, the PTE effect becomes extremely inefficient in low-dimensional nanomaterials, owing to intrinsic disadvantages, such as low optical absorption and immature fabrication methods. In this study, a giant PTE effect was observed in lightly doped p-type silicon nanoribbons caused by photogenerated hot carriers. The open-circuit photovoltage responsivity of the device was 3-4 orders of magnitude higher than those of previously reported PTE devices. The measured photovoltage responses fit very well with the proposed photothermoelectric multiphysics models. This research proposes an application of the PTE effect and a possible method for utilizing hot carriers in semiconductors to significantly improve their photoelectric conversion efficiency.