A high-performance solid-state electrocaloric cooling system

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Science  02 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6512, pp. 129-133
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba2648

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Competitive cooling with capacitors

Current large-scale cooling devices use vapor compression refrigeration. The efficiency of air conditioners has been optimized, but they can be noisy and rely on problematic greenhouse gases. Two groups now present designs for electrocaloric cooling using lead scandium tantalate capacitors that change temperature under an electric field. Y. Wang et al. obtained a very large heat flux using only solid materials and a cooling fan to remove heat from their device. Torello et al. used fluids for heat transfer, leading to a very large temperature difference between the hot side and the cold side. The new designs demonstrate the potential for devices that might be competitive with vapor compression–based appliances with further optimization.

Science, this issue p. 129, p. 125


Electrocaloric (EC) cooling is an emerging technology that has broad potential to disrupt conventional air conditioning and refrigeration as well as electronics cooling applications. EC coolers can be highly efficient, solid state, and compact; have few moving parts; and contain no environmentally harmful or combustible refrigerants. We report a scalable, high-performance system architecture, demonstrated in a device that uses PbSc0.5Ta0.5O3 EC multilayer ceramic capacitors fabricated in a manufacturing-compatible process. We obtained a system temperature span of 5.2°C and a maximum heat flux of 135 milliwatts per square centimeter. This measured heat flux is more than four times higher than other EC cooling demonstrations, and the temperature lift is among the highest for EC systems that use ceramic multilayer capacitors.

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