Thermoelectrics can be used to cool or heat objects and to generate electricity. Thermoelectric coolers act as small heat pumps to keep electronics cool or to precisely control their temperature. Conversely, thermoelectrics can be placed on heat sources to generate electricity for a variety of energy harvesting applications.

From a thermal management perspective, the heat generated from today’s electronics is highly non-uniform both spatially and temporally with regions of very high heat flux that vary with the workload. Existing passive cooling technologies, based on conduction and convection, can cool moderate heat fluxes by utilizing either passive heat transport devices (such as heat pipes) or advanced heat exchangers (such as microchannels and water-cooled jackets). But they cannot provide site-specific and/or on-demand localized cooling of high heat flux regions. Since passive solutions must be sized for the worst case, these systems are often over-designed, inefficient, and bulky. In contrast, solid state (thermoelectric) cooling can provide rapid, localized, and on-demand active cooling, as well as increased cooling power densities. Chip-scale thermoelectric coolers for high-performance microelectronics can be integrated into microprocessor and electronics packages or on boards for high heat-flux thermal management. During the first half of the webinar, we will discuss thermal management of electronics using thermoelectric devices as a method of control.

Thermoelectric power generation will be discussed in the second half of the presentation. The past decade has seen significant advances in alternative energy sources. The conversion of waste heat using thermoelectrics is attractive for many applications where micro-W to milli-W power is required. The design and optimization of the system (and each element within the system) is highly dependent on the thermal boundary conditions and the power load. We will review the key performance factors and considerations required to optimize each element of the system to achieve the required I-V characteristics for output power.


Dave Koester, MS, Vice President of Engineering
Dave Koester is VP of Engineering for Nextreme, Inc. Dave has over 15 years of experience in semiconductor technology and product development focused primarily in the fabrication and manufacturing of semiconductors and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). He has been responsible for product development in numerous areas including optical and wireless communications, biomedical device applications, and various sensing devices. Dave has held key technical and managerial positions with MCNC, Cronos Integrated Microsystems, JDS Uniphase, MEMSCAP, Inc. and RTI International. Dave received a MS from North Carolina State University in materials science and a BS from Iowa State University in ceramic engineering.