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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

New Tech Tuesdays: Thermoelectric Coolers Help Hundreds of Applications Keep Their Cool Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

Keeping your cool. For people, keeping cool is best for maintaining focus when faced with stress. On a technical level—the same. Keeping cool is important to thousands of applications facing their stresses: harsh environments.

Thermoelectric coolers are the devices that step up for those assignments. In applications, thermoelectric coolers provide heat removal ranging from milliwatts to several thousand watts.

They do their job in hundreds of applications, including portable coolers, cooling electronic components, and small instruments. They can be used to extract water from the air in dehumidifiers.

On an industrial scale, thermoelectric coolers are used in many manufacturing fields and require a thorough performance analysis as they face the test of running thousands of cycles before these industrial products are launched to the market.

The process of thermoelectric cooling uses the Peltier effect to create a heat flux at the junction of two different types of materials. A Peltier cooler, heater, or thermoelectric heat pump is a solid-state active heat pump that transfers heat from one side of the device to the other, consuming electrical energy, depending on the current's direction. The modules' design consists of two ceramic plates separated by a semiconductor structure.

In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at thermoelectric coolers from Laird Thermal Systems and CUI Devices.

When Durability and Precise Temperature Control Is Needed

Designers want durability in their thermoelectric coolers. Laird Thermal Systems PowerCycling PCX Thermoelectric Coolers are assembled with next-generation thermoelectric materials and enhanced module construction. That's important because thermal cycling exposes thermoelectric coolers to mechanical stresses from repeated heating and cooling cycles expanding and contracting the module, leading to performance and product life degradation. Laird coolers are ideal for molecular diagnostics in DNA amplification (rapidly heating and cooling samples), point-of-care testing devices for a physician's office or at-home real-time medical testing, and thermal test sockets. Point-of-care testing allows medical staff to accurately achieve real-time diagnostic results within an hour rather than days. PCR-based point-of-care testing is critical for diagnosing COVID-19 because it provides the fastest and most accurate test results.

Sometimes, designers need precise temperature control modules to fit tight spaces. CUI Devices Micro Peltier Modules are miniature thermoelectric coolers in package sizes with dimensions from 3.4mm to 9.5mm and profiles as low as 1.95mm. The modules' solid-state construction, precise temperature control, and quiet operation make them ideal for constrained spaces where forced air cooling isn't practical. They're most appropriate in medical and industrial applications and refrigeration and sealed environments.

Tuesday's Takeaway

Thermoelectric coolers might be nondescript, but design engineers find them essential for keeping the heat off thousands of applications dealing with sizeable swings in heating and cooling cycles. They regulate, which is something we all can use when it comes to keeping our cool.

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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.

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