Device and Application

   Heat management is a main challenge in many devices and applications. Overheating can cause degradation of electronic devices, so excess heat must be dissipated. Our lab focuses on efficient heat management for thermal applications by using thermoelectric materials or thermoelectric modules; examples include a stretchable thermoelectric cooler, and cooling of localized and transient heat. (Fig.1)

   Stretchable devices are emerging as a next-generation platform for displays and electronic devices that can operate while being bent, twisted or stretched. However, little attention has been paid to methods to dissipate the heat that they produce. Stretchable devices will require completely different heat management solutions than those developed for conventional rigid devices. Here, we try to increase the thermal conductance of the devices to optimize the cooling performances for thermal applications. (Fig.2)

Fig. 1 Overheating issues in electronic devices

   Conventional solutions to cooling exploit conduction and convection, but these processes require bulky systems that are inefficient in managing localized and transient heat. These limitations cause excessive cooling energy cost. For instance, the energy costs of cooling in data centers are comparable to the computational cost itself. If a heat-management system can cool specific hot spots only during periods of overheating, it would drastically reduce energy cost for cooling, and the build cost of the bulk system.

   In our lab, we demonstrate an on-demand thermoelectric cooling system that uses an array of Peltier modules to manage local heat effectively.

Fig. 2 Schematic illustration of stretchable thermoelectric cooler

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