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Physics colloquium-“Solid State Cooling and Power Generation-Transitioning From Mechanical Engines to Electronic Materials”
September 10, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Colorado School of Mines, Department of Physics
Abstract: The transition from bulky vacuum tubes to solid state transistors in the 1960s heralded the dawn of the information age. In contrast, we have yet to experience a similar revolution in our ability to control heat. Today, electricity is primarily produced via mechanical heat engines that drive a generator; likewise, refrigeration is achieved through similar compression cycles. For the last 200 years, solid state analogs to these mechanical engines have been investigated with varying success. Generally, such systems utilize either the charge or spin of electrons in crystalline solids to follow similar thermodynamic cycles. In this colloquium, we provide a broad discussion of the physics underlying thermoelectric, magnetocaloric, thermoionics, and ionic thermal-to-electricity approaches. After comparing these various solid state approaches, a deeper dive into thermoelectric phenomena and associated material demands is discussed.