Thermoelectric Cooling Through Thermoelectric Materials
Thermoelectric (TE) cooling has been used for thermal management of high-power-dissipating electrical components, with silent, compact, reliable, and durable characteristics and being modulated to maintain a fixed temperature. However, TE coolers currently in use have a coefficient of performance (COP) of only about 0.5. This is quite a low value compared with COPs of other cooling approaches such as air conditioners and refrigerators at levels of 3.0–5.0. With increasing demands for high performance thermoelectric coolers, advanced emerging TE materials provide probability for improving their efficiency. These emerging materials include new families of advanced bulk TE materials based on crystal structures that contain weakly bound atoms or molecules with large vibrational amplitudes at partially filled structural sites acting as effective phonon scatterers, such as skutterudites, clathrates, and oxides; low dimensional materials systems, such as quantum well superlattices, quantum wires, quantum dots, thin film or band engineering structures; as well as nanocomposites, which demonstrates much higher ZT values than that of their bulk counterparts. The nanocomposites can be fabricated inexpensively, quickly, and in a form that is compatible with existing TE device configurations. Further research in this field will allow TE cooling to play a significant role in any future thermal management solution. This chapter will review the principle, design, and application of the TE cooling, as well as the effects of the emerging novel TE materials on its efficiency. The main contents include TE effects, design methodology and multistage architecture of TE cooling devices, and advanced TE materials and future development trends.
KeywordsHeat Sink Heat Pump Seebeck Coefficient Lattice Thermal Conductivity Bismuth Telluride
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