2016 Mar

Seebeck Effect and Applications Explained

March 18, 2016

Thermoelectric Power

The Seebeck effect in semiconductors and conductors has been explained clearly to give the reader comprehensive understanding. Understand how the effect has been utilized to generate power, build thermal sensors, and some innovative areas of its application.

The temperature difference conversion between two non-equivalent electrical semiconductors or conductors straight into electrical potential is referred to as thermoelectric effect. At the time these conductors with a potential difference are brought into contact via an electrical connection, it leads to flow of charged particles that produce a current flow. The opposite situation is as well applicable where a potential difference application to the two non-similar electrical conductors gives rise to a temperature difference at their junction.

Seebeck generator

The grouping of two non-similar conductors linked to a heat supply and then transforming it into voltage to supply the load demand is known as a Seebeck generator. It’s possible to utilize it in generating electrical energy to power small-scale load demands independently, that is, without any external supply of electrical power linked to it. The flow of heat from the higher temperature part of the junction to the cooler regions of the conductor leads to a thermal gradient and hence a resultant heat flow. Constituent atoms of the junction become charged and start to move from greater density region to lower density region. The resulting voltage difference behaves as the power supply for the connected load. Without any rotating parts involved, these uncovers applications in low-electrical power remote installations.


Seebeck effect when employed in monitoring the net temperature change in making use of the attained electrical potential can be helpful in determining these parameters as well. These incorporate the material degradation, strength testing, and radiation level from radioactive materials which vary with temperature over the time period. The electrical signals resulting from these thermoelectric gadgets can be employed in actuating of security alarms or switches for signaling the situation.

Thermocouple – This thermoelectric gadget which we have learnt in our Physics tuition class on Thermal Physics, is a combination of a minimum of two distinct semiconductors or conductors used for gauging the temperature rise by converting the resulting electrical parameter into its conforming temperature. It can as well be utilized in initiation of valves or circuits.

Power generators – Use of Seebeck effect in Cogeneration has been utilized by a lot of electrical power producing units to make use of the waste heat produced in the industry to generate extra power.

Thermopiles – These are a number of thermocouples linked in series or parallel to acquire usable voltage to supply comparatively higher scale electrical power demands.

High-frequency electrical power sensors – Seebeck effect has been useful in obtaining the precise amplitude of sinusoidal waves. This has assisted in detection of the hyperfrequency electrical power produced in a system and notify the operators.

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