Cascade cryogenic thermoelectric cooler for cryogenic and room temperature applications
A cascade thermoelectric cooler designed to cool to cryogenic temperatures of 30 to 120 K integrates high performance.backslash.high-ZT Bi.sub.x Sb.sub.2-x Te.sub.3 and Bi.sub.2 Te.sub.3-x Se.sub.3 -based super-lattice-structure thin-film thermoelectric devices with a bulk-material based thermoelectric cooler including plural cascaded cold stages with each successive cascaded cold stage able to cool to a progressively lower temperature. Each cold stage in the bulk-material thermoelectric cooler includes a heat source plate, a heat sink plate, a p-type thermoelectric, and a n-type thermoelectric. Moreover, the thin-film thermoelectric cooler can have multiple stages in which each stage contains a heat source plate, a heat sink plate, a p-type super-latticed thermoelectric element, and a n type super-latticed thermoelectric element. By bonding an output heat source plate on the thin-film thermoelectric cooler to an input heat sink plate on the bulk-material thermoelectric cooler, the integration of the thin-film thermoelectric with the bulk-material-based thermoelectric yields a cascade thermoelectric cooler wherein the bulk-material-based thermoelectric cooler cools to 160 K and the thin-film thermoelectric device cools to cryogenic temperatures between 70 and 120 K. Another level of thin-film super-lattice integration can achieve temperatures of 30 K. Alternatively, the integration of a high ZT thin-film superlattice thermoelectric cooler on a multi-staged bulk-material-based thermoelectric cooler can produce a higher performance non-cryogenic cooler.