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John O | August 2018

UIC researchers demonstrate novel method for cooling hotspots in electronics


By Josh Perry, Editor
jperry@coolingzone.com

 

Researchers from the Advanced Semiconductor Materials and Devices Laboratory at the University of Illinois – Chicago (UIC) have produced a new technique for cooling hotspots in electronics, while also using the captured waste heat to power those devices.

 


Junxia “Lucy” Shi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. (UIC)

 

According to a report from the university, the researchers have targeted heat sensors and energy converters to not only target the spots where localized cooling is required but to then convert the thermal energy into electricity.

 

The researchers are studying the internal arrangement of electrons, their motion within a crystal, and the intrinsic magnetic field caused by that motion as a method for driving out more heat from the devices.

 

Researchers want to push that heat through a thermal power generator that would convert it to electricity or use the heat to drive the spin currents of the electrons.

 

“The researchers are using thermal power generators from an application standpoint because of the heat that it can draw out and drive another generator,” the article explained. “There are two effects, called the Seebeck effect and the Peltier effect, which are at play in the research.”

 

The research was recently published in Scientific Reports and in Physical Review Letters. One abstract read:

 

“A semi-classical analysis of magneto-thermopower behaviour, namely, the Seebeck and Nernst effect (NE) in quantum wells of IV-VI lead salts with significant extrinsic Rashba spin-orbit coupling (RSOC) is performed in this report. In addition to the spin-dependent Seebeck effect that has been observed before, we also theoretically predict a similar spin-delineated behavior for its magneto-thermal analog, the spin-dependent NE.

 

“The choice of lead salts follows from a two-fold advantage they offer, in part, to their superior thermoelectric properties, especially PbTe, while their low band gaps and high spin-orbit coupling make them ideal candidates to study RSOC governed effects in nanostructures.

 

“The calculations show a larger longitudinal magneto-thermopower for the spin-up electrons while the transverse components are nearly identical. In contrast, for a magnetic field free case, the related power factor calculations reveal a significantly higher contribution from the spin-down ensemble and suffer a reduction with an increase in the electron density.

 

“We also discuss qualitatively the limitations of the semi-classical approach for the extreme case of a high magnetic field and allude to the observed thermopower behaviour when the quantum Hall regime is operational. Finally, techniques to modulate the thermopower are briefly outlined.”

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