A new experimental approach was developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University. This was developed on the basis that the same size-dependent electron scattering mechanisms that affect the conductance of nanoscale metal structures should also affect their thermoelectric properties. Thus, by determining attributes such as the Seebeck coefficient of nanoscale materials, valuable insight into electron scattering processes can be gained. Additional information can also be obtained that is critical in the search for superior thermoelectric materials that are expected to very efficiently convert a temperature difference into electricity (Seebeck effect) and vice versa (Peltier effect).

As a specific example, the thermopower of individual, 30 nm diameter, Ni nanowires has been determined as a function of temperature. The role of boundary scattering of phonons on the Seebeck coefficient and electron scattering at grain boundaries on conductance were determined. Any future interpretation of size-dependent thermopower in nanoscale ferromagnetic materials will have to explicitly consider the observed effects from this study.