Case 10827

Surface Plasma Coupled Nonequilibrium Thermoelectric Devices

Keywords:

Heat transfer, Thermoelectric devices, Surface-plasmon coupling

Applications:

Thermoelectric devices for use in refrigerators and power generators

Problem:

Limited energy conversion efficiency due to phonon heat conduction

Technology:

This invention provides efficient surface plasmon coupled nonequilibrium thermoelectric devices. These devices use the tunneling of surface plasmons to limit the energy exchange between the heating source and the thermoelectric element to electrons while eliminating direct energy exchange between phonons. It includes a first surface plasmon substrate and a thermoelectric substrate electrically coupled to a plurality of electrodes and isolated from each other by a phonon insulating gap ranging from 1 nanometer to about 100 nanometers in width. It employs surface plasmon polaritons to transfer thermal energy across the phonon insulating gap. Many different materials, including conductors and semiconductors, can support surface plasmon polaritons.

Advantages:

    Increased efficiency over conventional thermoelectric devices

Inventors:

Intellectual Property:

U.S. Patent No. 7,508,110 issued March 24, 2009

Publications:

R.G. Yang, A. Narayanaswamy, and G. Chen, "Surface-Plasmon Coupled Nonequilibrium Thermoelectric Refrigerators and Power Generators," Journal of Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience, Vol. 2, pp. 75-87, March, 2005.

Last revised: January 19, 2012

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