Effect of thermoelectric cooling in nanoscale junctions

Yu Shen Liu, Bailey C. Hsu, Yu-Chang Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


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 the phonon's thermal current and local heating are included. It is observed that the functioning of the thermoelectric nanorefrigerator 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 thermoelectric figure of merit (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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6111-6125
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number13
StatePublished - 7 Apr 2011

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