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Thermoelectric Peltier Couple

How is heat transported in a Peltier module?

To understand how heat is transported in a Peltier module, it is necessary to understand the construction of a Peltier module.  A semiconductor couple is the basic building block of a thermoelectric / Peltier module. A couple consists of one p-type and one n-type semiconductor block connected by a metallic strip. These semiconductor blocks are also called thermoelements. The p and n semiconductor blocks are connected electrically in series and thermally in parallel. The metal strip serves as a junction between the two semiconductors. When DC current is passed through the couple, heat is absorbed at the cold side junction and heat is released at the hot side junction.

To create a Peltier module, many couples are placed electrically in series and sandwiched between substrates that are generally ceramic. The cooling capacity scales directly proportional to number of couples in the module. In addition to connecting the couples electrically in series, sometimes the couples are connected electrically in parallel or series-parallel to reduce the electrical resistance of the module.

Thermoelectric Peltier Cooler module TEC

How is heat transported in a Peltier Module?

The heat transport in a Peltier module can explained with charge carrier analysis. In thermoelectric materials, charge carriers are electrons and holes. Electrons carry a negative charge and holes carry a positive charge. In n-type materials, the charge carriers are electrons and in p-type materials, the charge carriers are holes. Holes are empty spaces in a crystal lattice that an electron could occupy. These holes are free to move about within the lattice. When charge carriers move they take heat with them. Energy absorbed and liberated can be accounted for by a change in energy level of electrons. Electrons that move to a higher energy level absorb heat and electrons that move to a lower energy level release heat. The material characteristics and polarity of the DC source relative to the p and n arrangement makes possible energy absorption and release in a controlled manner.

About Applied Thermoelectric Solutions

At Applied Thermoelectric Solutions LLC, we are passionate about solid-state thermoelectric thermal management, thermal energy harvesting, and the limitless opportunities to apply the technology to the world around us. We design, engineer, build and test thermoelectric systems for your product or application. We are a Michigan based engineering and R&D company. While other companies focus on manufacturing thermoelectric modules, our focus is on the full system. We specialize in custom and optimized thermoelectric modules and systems. We apply thermoelectric technology to your product or application with unconventional thinking, a high level of multidisciplinary engineering expertise, innovation, and design. We strive to make the whole process of obtaining a prototype as simple and straightforward as possible. Whether your product or application is one of a kind or will be high-volume mass produced, we can help. We will design any system no matter the complexity. We care about quality, performance, and cost-effective design. We believe that balance between the theoretical and the practical is important when designing a system. We continuously question the status quo and push the boundaries of conventional thinking to provide you with the best solution.

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Alfred Piggott is founder and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Applied Thermoelectric Solutions LLC.  In this role, Alfred works with clients to design, build and test custom and optimized solid-state thermal management and thermal energy harvesting systems and solutions. Alfred is a qualified mechanical / thermal engineer. He holds a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University.  The subject of his research was in regard to using electrical current pulses to improve thermoelectric cooling performance. He currently holds 7 patents and has 4 patents pending regarding advanced thermoelectric and thermal management devices. Alfred earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. There he won the Mechanical Engineering department and overall School of Engineering Senior Design Competition with an innovative thermal energy conversion device. Alfred is no stranger to thermoelectrics and thermal management, having spent 18 years as an engineer where he focused on mechanical and thermal design, product development, systems engineering, thermal modeling, advanced engineering and research and development. Most recently Alfred led thermoelectric design and development in the advanced engineering group of Gentherm and advanced thermal systems engineering at FCA US LLC. Prior to his engineering career, Alfred spent 8 years as an ASE certified automotive technician.  Passionate about thermoelectrics, Alfred has helped a wide range of clients to find quality and cost-effective solutions to their thermal management and thermal energy harvesting needs. Drawing on 26+ years of diverse experience, he also now gives talks about thermoelectrics to the top thermoelectrics societies about his research in the field, for example, Peltier Supercooling with Isosceles Current Pulses: A Response Surface Perspective. ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology, JSS Focus Issue on Thermoelectric Materials & Devices. 2017; 6(3): N3045-N54  Alfred’s varied background as a technician, in Industry, advanced engineering and R&D provides the perfect foundation for his current role at Applied Thermoelctric Solutions LLC.

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