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Many types of microsystems and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices exhibit improved performance characteristics when operated below room temperature. However, designers rarely pair such devices with integrated cooling solutions because they add complexity to the system and often have power consumption which far exceeds that of the microsystem itself. We report the design, fabrication, and testing of both one- and six-stage thermoelectric (TE) microcoolers that target MEMS applications through optimization for low-power operation. Both coolers use thin-film Bi2Te3 and Sb2Te3 as the n-and p-type TE materials, respectively, and operate in a planar configuration. The six-stage cooler has demonstrated a ΔT = 22.3 °C at a power consumption of 24.8 mW, while the one-stage cooler has demonstrated a ΔT = 17.9 °C at a lower power consumption of 12.4 mW.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2011