The potentialities of silicon as a starting material for electronic devices are well known and largely exploited, driving the worldwide spreading of integrated circuits. When nanostructured, silicon is also an excellent material for thermoelectric applications, and hence it could give a significant contribution in the fundamental fields of energy micro-harvesting (scavenging) and macro-harvesting. On the basis of recently published experimental works, we show that the power factor of silicon is very high in a large temperature range (from room temperature up to 900 K). Combining the high power factor with the reduced thermal conductivity of monocrystalline silicon nanowires and nanostructures, we show that the foreseen figure of merit
could be very high, reaching values well above 1 at temperatures around 900 K. We report the best parameters to optimize the thermoelectric properties of silicon nanostructures, in terms of doping concentration and nanowire diameter. At the end, we report some technological processes and solutions for the fabrication of macroscopic thermoelectric devices, based on large numbers of silicon nanowire/nanostructures, showing some fabricated demonstrators.
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