Thermoelectric Nanotechnology

By Mark Lundstrom

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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Thermoelectricity was discovered in 1821 and developed into a practical technology 1950's and 1960's. It now provides electronic refrigeration and electronic power generation for a number of important, niche applications. Widespread use of thermoelectric technology, however, requires significant improvements in efficiency. This talk is an undergraduate level introduction to the field. After a brief discussion of applications, the physics of the Peltier effect is described, and the Figure of Merit (FOM), ZT, which controls the efficiency of a thermoelectric refrigerator or electric power generator, is discussed. The talk concludes with a brief look at the role that nanoscience may play in increasing the FOM and broadening the applications for thermoelectric technology.

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  • Mark Lundstrom (2010), "Thermoelectric Nanotechnology,"

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Physics 238, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN