Effect of Thermoelectric Cooling in Nanoscale Junctions

Liu, Yu-Shen
Hsu, Bailey C.
Chen, Yu-Chang
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We propose a thermoelectric cooling device based on an atomic-sized junction. Using first-principles approaches, we investigate the working conditions and the coefficient of performance (COP) of an atomic-scale electronic refrigerator where the effects of phonon's thermal current and local heating are included. It is observed that the functioning of the thermoelectric nano-refrigerator is restricted to a narrow range of driving voltages. Compared with the bulk thermoelectric system with the overwhelmingly irreversible Joule heating, the 4-Al atomic refrigerator has a higher efficiency than a bulk thermoelectric refrigerator with the same $ZT$ due to suppressed local heating via the quasi-ballistic electron transport and small driving voltages. Quantum nature due to the size minimization offered by atomic-level control of properties facilitates electron cooling beyond the expectation of the conventional thermoelectric device theory.
Comment: 8 figures
Condensed Matter - Mesoscale and Nanoscale Physics