A compromise between accuracy and computational efficiency is made.
A parameterized orthogonal tight-binding mathematical model of the quantum electronic structure of the bismuth telluride molecule has been devised for use in conjunction with a semiclassical transport model in predicting the thermoelectric properties of doped bismuth telluride. This model is expected to be useful in designing and analyzing Bi2Te3 thermoelectric devices, including ones that contain such nano-structures as quantum wells and wires. In addition, the understanding gained in the use of this model can be expected to lead to the development of better models that could be useful for developing other thermoelectric materials and devices having enhanced thermoelectric properties.
Bi2Te3 is one of the best bulk thermoelectric materials and is widely used in commercial thermoelectric devices. Most prior theoretical studies of the thermoelectric properties of Bi2Te3 have involved either continuum models or ab-initio models. Continuum models are computationally very efficient, but do not account for atomic-level effects. Ab-initio models are atomistic by definition, but do not scale well in that computation times increase excessively with increasing numbers of atoms. The present tight-binding model bridges the gap between the well-scalable but non-atomistic continuum models and the atomistic but poorly scalable ab-initio models: The present tight-binding model is atomistic, yet also computationally efficient because of the reduced (relative to an ab-initio model) number of basis orbitals and flexible parameterization of the Hamiltonian.