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Research Article

Thermoelectricity in atom-sized junctions at room temperatures


Atomic and molecular junctions are an emerging class of thermoelectric materials that exploit quantum confinement effects to obtain an enhanced figure of merit. An important feature in such nanoscale systems is that the electron and heat transport become highly sensitive to the atomic configurations. Here we report the characterization of geometry-sensitive thermoelectricity in atom-sized junctions at room temperatures. We measured the electrical conductance and thermoelectric power of gold nanocontacts simultaneously down to the single atom size. We found junction conductance dependent thermoelectric voltage oscillations with period 2e2/h. We also observed quantum suppression of thermovoltage fluctuations in fully-transparent contacts. These quantum confinement effects appeared only statistically due to the geometry-sensitive nature of thermoelectricity in the atom-sized junctions. The present method can be applied to various nanomaterials including single-molecules or nanoparticles and thus may be used as a useful platform for developing low-dimensional thermoelectric building blocks.