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The primary drawback of thermoelectric coolers (TECs) for electronics cooling applications is their thermodynamic inefficiency due to material limitations. The present work considers a control strategy to improve the overall coefficient of performance in an engineering system instead of addressing material shortcomings. Typical TECs are composed of several individual thermocouples that are powered in series and remove heat in parallel. If one of the numerous thermocouples is powered, all the thermocouples receive the some power whether or not they are needed. The fact that chips heat nonuniformly provides an opportunity for performance enhancement, by sensing and controlling the power to individual couples within the device. The current work presents evidence that applying distributed control to TEC operation can realize appreciable improvement in performance. Compared to monolithic cooling devices, a distributed control strategy can realize a factor of 2 increase in performance for the device studied. Additionally, this type of control can be used in conjunction with many of the existing material-based research initiatives to further compound the benefits.
Components and Packaging Technologies, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:30 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: June 2007