Special Reviews

Thermoelectric Cooling and Power Generation

Science  30 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5428, pp. 703-706
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5428.703

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Abstract

In a typical thermoelectric device, a junction is formed from two different conducting materials, one containing positive charge carriers (holes) and the other negative charge carriers (electrons). When an electric current is passed in the appropriate direction through the junction, both types of charge carriers move away from the junction and convey heat away, thus cooling the junction. Similarly, a heat source at the junction causes carriers to flow away from the junction, making an electrical generator. Such devices have the advantage of containing no moving parts, but low efficiencies have limited their use to specialty applications, such as cooling laser diodes. The principles of thermoelectric devices are reviewed and strategies for increasing the efficiency of novel materials are explored. Improved materials would not only help to cool advanced electronics but could also provide energy benefits in refrigeration and when using waste heat to generate electrical power.

View Full Text

Cited By...