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Extending the limits of air cooling with thermoelectrically enhanced heat sinks

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2 Author(s)
Bierschenk, Jim ; Marlow Ind. Inc., Dallas, TX, USA ; Johnson, D.

The prospects of using thermoelectric coolers (TECs) as a means to enhance heat sink performance and extend the limits of air cooling for electronics has considerable appeal when one considers the alternatives of liquid cooling. Historical analyses of TECs for electronics cooling only considered "off-the-shelf" TECs, resulting in poor performance predictions and in many cases system performance that was better without the TEC. This poor performance has been taken as typical and hopes of improved performance tied only to new, more efficient bulk thermoelectric materials and future thin film thermoelectric material formats. This paper demonstrates the results possible when today's best bulk thermoelectric materials are utilized in optimum TEC designs eliminating the penalty imposed by using non-optimum "off-the-shelf TECs. These optimized TEC configurations can provide an effective negative thermal resistance while operating at high COP thereby extending the limits of traditional air cooling for electronics.

Published in:

Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems, 2004. ITHERM '04. The Ninth Intersociety Conference on

Date of Conference:

1-4 June 2004