In microthermoelectric generators (μTEGs), parasitic thermal resistance must be suppressed to increase the temperature difference across thermocouples for optimum power generation. A thermally conductive (TC) layer is typically used in μTEGs to guide the heat flow from the heat source to the hot junction of each thermocouple. In this study, we investigate the effect of the thermal boundary resistance (TBR) in metal/dielectric TC layers on the power generation of silicon nanowire (SiNW) μTEGs. We prepared various metal/adhesion/dielectric TC layers using different metal, adhesion, and dielectric layers and measured the thermal resistance using the frequency-domain thermoreflectance method. We found that the thermal resistance was significantly different, mainly due to the TBR of the metal/dielectric interfaces. Interface characterization highlights the significant role of the interfacial bonding strength and interdiffusion in TBR. We fabricated a prototype SiNW-μTEG with different TC layers for testing, finding that the power generation increased significantly when the thermal resistance of the TC layer was lowered. This study helps to understand the underlying physics of thermal transport at interfaces and provides a guideline for the design and fabrication of μTEGs to enhance power generation for effective energy harvesting.
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