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SEEBECK EFFECT

The Seebeck Effect produces an electric current when dissimilar metals are exposed to a variance in temperature. Seebeck effect applications are the foundation of thermoelectric generators (TEGs) or Seebeck generators which convert heat into energy. The voltage produced by TEGs or Seebeck generators is proportional to the temperature distance across between the two metal junctions.

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Thermoelectric generators are solid-state heat engines made of pairs of p-type and n-type elements. The p-type elements are made of semiconductor materials doped such that the charge carriers are positive (holes) and Seebeck coefficient is positive. The n-type elements are made of semiconductor material doped such that the charge carriers are negative (electrons) and the Seebeck coefficient is negative.

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ENERGY GENERATION

When a p-type element electrically connects to the n-type element, the mobile holes in the p-type element “see” the mobile electrons in the n-type element and migrate just to the other side of the junction.

When one electrically connects a p-type element to the n-type element, the mobile holes in the p-type element “see” the mobile electrons in the n-type element and migrate just to the other side of the junction. For every hole that migrates into the n-type element, an electron from the n-type element migrates into the p-type element. Soon, each hole and electron that “switch sides” will be in equilibrium and act like a barrier, preventing more electrons or holes from migrating. This is called the depletion zone.

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