Sensor technology: Thermoelectric temperature sensors are an indispensable tool for precise temperature measurements over a wide temperature range. The measurement is based on the Seebeck effect. Typical thermocouples are:

type K                Ni/Cr                  −180 °C to +1300 °C

type S                Pt/Rh                   −50 °C to +1750 °C

Thermoelectric cooling: Thermoelectric refrigerators are based on the Peltier effect. However, the electrical energy consumption is disastrous compared to conventional fridges. The application of the so called Peltier coolers thus should be limited to special cases, where motors and compressors are not applicable. Examples are CCD-cameras in spectrometers or telescopes, or active coolers on computer chips. Nevertheless, Peltier coolers enjoy increasing popularity in many consumer products like USB-coolers or camping devices. Peltier coolers are typically based on Bi2Te3.

Thermoelectric generator: The Seebeck effect can be used for electric power generation. The efficiency achieved in such generators, however, is substantially lower than in any combustion engine. Thermoelectric generators thus usually have been used in situations, where no other power supply is applicable. Most prominent is the application in space crafts or even pacemakers. Here, the radioactive decay of PuO2 blocks supplies thermal energy, which is reliably converted to electrical energy over decades. An interesting historical consumer product is for example the kerosene generator, used as power supply for radios in distant areas of Russia.

Currently, there is a strong renewed interest in thermoelectric materials of high efficiency, to exploit heat flows in natural or technical processes.

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