Z. Bian, Shakouri, A., Shi, L., Lyeo, H. K., and Shih, C. K., “Three-Dimensional Modeling of Nanoscale Seebeck Measurement by Scanning Thermoelectric Microscopy,” Applied Physics Letters, vol. 87, pp. 053115, 2005.
A three-dimensional electrothermal model has been developed to investigate the spatial resolution of the scanning thermoelectric microscopy (SThEM). We found that if the electrical resistivity of the sample changes abruptly, the SThEM will measure a voltage close to the local thermoelectric voltage where electrical resistivity is relatively low, rather than a simple weighted average of the thermoelectric voltage distribution based on the temperature profile. This is due to the presence of internal currents in the sample. The spatial resolution of the Seebeck profiling is limited by the finite value of the phonon mean free path of the sample and the tip size of the microscopy. With a tip size around 1 nm, the scanning thermoelectric microscopy can achieve a spatial resolution of the physical limit defined by the statistical nature of the charge carrier and phonon behavior in a very small region.