A Cool Concept
If the people at Research Triangle Institute have their way, you might just be able to have your cake and eat it too, at least when it comes to keeping ICs cool. A prototype semiconductor thermoelectric device has been developed that is many times more efficient at cooling that anything that has preceded it. Their array cools a small block of steel by 15 °F in 2 minutes. It works in reverse, too; that is to say it generates electric current when exposed to heat. Imagine mating this device to a cell phone PA and having it boost efficiency by both keeping it cool and feeding the heat-generated current back to the bias circuits. Visions of grandeur by the inventors foretell of the eventual replacement of conventional refrigerators and air conditioners. No time line has been proposed, however.