Development and characterization of a microthermoelectric generator with plated copper/constantan thermocouples
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This work reports the development and the characterization of a microthermoelectric generator (μTEG) based on planar technology using electrochemically deposited constantan and copper thermocouples on a micro machined silicon substrate with a SiO2/Si3N4/SiO2 thermally insulating membrane to create a thermal gradient. The μTEG has been designed and optimized by finite element simulation in order to exploit the different thermal conductivity of silicon and membrane in order to obtain the maximum temperature difference on the planar surface between the hot and cold junctions of the thermocouples. The temperature difference was dependent on the nitrogen (N2) flow velocity applied to the upper part of the device. The fabricated thermoelectric generator presented maximum output voltage and power of 118 mV/cm2 and of 1.1 μW/cm2, respectively, for a device with 180 thermocouples, 3 kΩ of internal resistance, and under a N2 flow velocity of 6 m/s. The maximum efficiency (performance) was 2 × 10−3 μW/cm2 K2.
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