WIAS Preprint No. 2605, (2019)

Generalized Scharfetter--Gummel schemes for electro-thermal transport in degenerate semiconductors using the Kelvin formula for the Seebeck coefficient


  • Kantner, Markus
    ORCID: 0000-0003-4576-3135

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 35K57 35Q79 65N08 80A20


  • Finite volume Scharfetter--Gummel method, semiconductor device simulation, electro-thermal transport, non-isothermal drift-diffusion system, degenerate semiconductors, Fermi--Dirac statistics, Seebeck coefficient




Many challenges faced in today's semiconductor devices are related to self-heating phenomena. The optimization of device designs can be assisted by numerical simulations using the non-isothermal drift-diffusion system, where the magnitude of the thermoelectric cross effects is controlled by the Seebeck coefficient. We show that the model equations take a remarkably simple form when assuming the so-called Kelvin formula for the Seebeck coefficient. The corresponding heat generation rate involves exactly the three classically known self-heating effects, namely Joule, recombination and Thomson--Peltier heating, without any further (transient) contributions. Moreover, the thermal driving force in the electrical current density expressions can be entirely absorbed in the (nonlinear) diffusion coefficient via a generalized Einstein relation. The efficient numerical simulation relies on an accurate and robust discretization technique for the fluxes (finite volume Scharfetter--Gummel method), which allows to cope with the typically stiff solutions of the semiconductor device equations. We derive two non-isothermal generalizations of the Scharfetter--Gummel scheme for degenerate semiconductors (Fermi--Dirac statistics) obeying the Kelvin formula. The approaches differ in the treatment of degeneration effects: The first is based on an approximation of the discrete generalized Einstein relation implying a specifically modified thermal voltage, whereas the second scheme follows the conventionally used approach employing a modified electric field. We present a detailed analysis and comparison of both schemes, indicating a superior performance of the modified thermal voltage scheme.

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