This paper reports a technique for independent observation of nanometer-scale Joule heating and thermoelectric effects, using atomic force microscopy (AFM) based measurements of nanometer-scale temperature fields. When electrical current flows through nanoscale devices and contacts the temperature distribution is governed by both Joule and thermoelectric effects. When the device is driven by an electrical current that is both periodic and bipolar, the temperature rise due to the Joule effect is at a different harmonic than the temperature rise due to the Peltier effect. An AFM tip scanning over the device can simultaneously measure all of the relevant harmonic responses, such that the Joule effect and the Peltier effect can be independently measured. Here we demonstrate the efficacy of the technique by measuring Joule and Peltier effects in phase change memory devices. By comparing the observed temperature responses of these working devices, we measure the device thermopower, which is in the range of 30 ± 3 to 250 ± 10 μV K-1. This technique could facilitate improved measurements of thermoelectric phenomena and properties at the nanometer-scale.
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