The Physics of Thermoelectric Energy Conversion

The Physics of Thermoelectric Energy Conversion

Julian Goldsmid
ISBN: 9781681746401 | PDF ISBN: 9781681746418
Copyright © 2017 | 104 Pages | Publication Date: May, 2017

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This book outlines the principles of thermoelectric generation and refrigeration from the discovery of the Seebeck and Peltier effects in the nineteenth century through the introduction of semiconductor thermoelements in the mid-twentieth century to the more recent development of nanostructured materials. It is shown that the efficiency of a thermoelectric generator and the coefficient of performance of a thermoelectric refrigerator can be related to a quantity known as the figure of merit. The figure of merit depends on the Seebeck coefficient and the ratio of the electrical to thermal conductivity. It is shown that expressions for these parameters can be derived from the band theory of solids. The conditions for favourable electronic properties are discussed. The methods for selecting materials with a low lattice thermal conductivity are outlined and the ways in which the scattering of phonons can be enhanced are described. The application of these principles is demonstrated for specific materials including the bismuth telluride alloys, bismuth-antimony, alloys based on lead telluride, silicon-germanium and materials described as phonon-glass electron-crystals. It is shown that there can be advantages in using the less familiar transverse thermoelectric effects and the transverse thermomagnetic effects. Finally, practical aspects of thermoelectric generation and refrigeration are discussed. The book is aimed at readers who do not have a specialised knowledge of solid state physics.

Table of Contents

1 The Seebeck and Peltier Effects
2 The Thermoelectric Figure of Merit
3 Measuring the Thermoelectric Properties
4 Electronic Transport in Semiconductors
5 Heat Conduction by the Crystal Lattice
6 Materials for Peltier Cooling
7 Generator Materials
8 Transverse Flow and Thermomagnetic Effects
9 Thermoelectric Refrigerators and Generators

About the Author(s)

Julian Goldsmid, IOP Fellow
After graduating from Queen Mary College, University of London in 1949 Julian Goldsmid joined the scientific staff of the General Electric Company in their Wembley laboratories. In 1964 he was appointed Reader in Solid State Physics at the University of Bath and in 1969 he became Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. After retiring from his chair in1988 he was appointed Emeritus Professor. From 1989 to 1995 he was Chairman of the Australian National Standards Commission. Julian Goldsmid has been a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Karlsruhe, Sussex, Southampton and the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Until recently he was a consultant for Marlow Industries. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Honored Academician of the International Thermoelectric Academy. In 2002 he was awarded the Golden Prize of that organization. In 2012 he received the Outstanding Achievement Award of the International Thermoelectric Society. He also received the Lightfoot Medal of the Institute of Refrigeration in 1959. He was awarded his Ph.D. degree by the University of London in 1958 and his D.Sc. in 1966. He has been author or joint author of about 200 publications. He is credited with many developments in the field of thermoelectricity including the first demonstration in 1954 of practical refrigeration using the Peltier effect in bismuth telluride.

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