A Simple Thermoelectric Device Test Structure

Technology #8761

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Theodore Harman
Lincoln Laboratory
Michael Walsh
Lincoln Laboratory
Patrick Taylor
Lincoln Laboratory
Brian Laforge
Lincoln Laboratory
Managed By
Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending

Self-assembled quantum dot superlattice thermoelectric materials and devices

US Patent 7179986

This technology is a test structure for testing a thick film thermoelectric device . The test structure is able to test the thermoelectric device in the device's three modes of operation, namely as a cooling device, as a heat pump, and as a power generator.


Typical applications for this invention include microelectronics, air conditioners, refrigeration cooling systems.

Problem Addressed

The main issue has been to improve thermoelectric figures of merit to enable the use of thermoelectric devices to replace Freon-based air-conditioners and refrigeration cooling systems.


The invention proposes a simple test device to develop thermoelectric materials and structures, in particular those that serve as thermoelectric power generation and cooling devices. It is particularly applicable for testing devices made from thick films of superlattices and quantum dot materials. Thermoelectric devices are widely used in microelectronics, in biotechnologies, and have the potential to replace Freon-based air-conditioners and refrigeration cooling systems. They may also be used to convert heat into useful electrical power.


  • Achieve larger temperature difference than conventional alloys
  • Absence of moving parts achieves long life, low maintenance and high reliability
  • No emission of toxic gases (environmentally-friendly)