Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ferroelectric HfO2 enable giant pyroelectric energy conversion and highly efficient supercapacitors

A new application for energy harvesting and storage of ferroelectric hafnium oxide has been investigated and proven by researchers at NaMLab in Dresden, RWTHA Aachen and TU Munich, Germany. One major advantage of the use of hafnium oxide over other materials is the low cost of fabrication of these films while it has been proven feasible by existing semiconductor process technology like in ALD in CMOS high-k / metal gate and high-k node dielectric for DRAM capacitors.

To summarize this investigation:
  • Ferroelectric phase transitions in Si:HfO2 thin films yield giant pyroelectricity.
  • Si:HfO2 for highly efficient supercapacitors is first reported.
  • Si:HfO2 shows highest figures of merit for pyroelectric energy harvesting.
  • Si:HfO2 for electrocaloric cooling and infrared sensing is first reported.

Ferroelectric phase transitions in nanoscale HfO2 films enable giant pyroelectric energy conversion and highly efficient super capacitors




Temperature- and field-induced phase transitions in ferroelectric nanoscale TiN/Si:HfO2/TiN capacitors with 3.8 to 5.6 mol% Si content are investigated for energy conversion and storage applications. Films with 5.6 mol% Si concentration exhibit an energy storage density of ~40 J/cm3 with a very high efficiency of ~80% over a wide temperature range useful for supercapacitors. Furthermore, giant pyroelectric coefficients of up to −1300 µC/(m2 K) are observed due to temperature dependent ferroelectric to paraelectric phase transitions. The broad transition region is related to the grain size distribution and adjustable by the Si content. This strong pyroelectricity yields electrothermal coupling factors k2 of up to 0.591 which are more than one order of magnitude higher than the best values ever reported. This enables pyroelectric energy harvesting with the highest harvestable energy density ever reported of 20.27 J/cm3 per Olsen cycle. Possible applications in infrared sensing are discussed. Inversely, through the electrocaloric effect an adiabatic temperature change of up to 9.5 K and the highest refrigerant capacity ever reported of 19.6 J/cm3 per cycle is achievable. This might enable energy efficient on-chip electrocaloric cooling devices. Additionally, low cost fabrication of these films is feasible by existing semiconductor process technology.