Thermoelectrics Handbook: Macro to Nano

Thermoelectrics Handbook: Macro to Nano

Book Preface

Thermoelectrics is defined as the science and technology associated with thermoelectric generation and refrigeration. Ten years ago volume 1 of the CRC Handbook of Thermoelectrics was published. Its publication brought together the many strands of activities in this scientific field under a unifying cover. An historical backdrop to thermoelectrics was given in its introductory chapter to which interested readers are referred.

During the intervening years since its publication, activity in thermoelectrics has increased substantially. This is primarily due to three major factors: increasing awareness of the deleterious effect of global warming on the planet’s environment, a renewed requirement for long-life electrical power sources, including nuclear fueled, and the increasing miniaturization of electronic circuits and sensors. Thermoelectrics is able to make a contribution to meeting the requirements of all three activities. Substantial progress has been made in employing thermoelectrics as an environmentally friendly method of recovering industrial and automobile waste heat, the development of high-performance functionally graded and segmented thermoelements for power source applications, and in the fabrication of reliable thin-film generating, cooling, and sensing devices. In addition, the advent of nanotechnology has had a dramatic effect on thermoelectric material development and has resulted in the syntheses of nanostructured materials whose thermoelectric properties surpass the best performance of conventional materials.

This second volume of the Handbook complements volume one. It provides an update of recent developments and serves both as an authoritative reference text on thermoelectrics for the professional scientist and engineer, and as a source of general information on thermoelectrics for the well-informed layman. It comprises 59 chapters, written by 99 internationally acknowledged experts in their field. The majority of chapters are review type and arranged in five sections I through V, entitled General Principles and Theoretical Considerations; Material Preparation and Measurements; Thermoelectric Materials; Thermoelements, Modules, and Devices; and Thermoelectric Systems and Applications. The theme of this Handbook’s title, macro to nano, is reflected in the order of chapters within each section, with the subject contents progressing from the large (macro) to micro and nano scale. Two appendices, I, History of the International Thermoelectric Society and II, Manufacturers and Suppliers of Thermoelectric Modules, complete the Handbook.

As in the first volume, I have taken the role of an acquisitions editor, rather than a copyeditor and although I have rephrased on occasion in order to clarify the meaning, every attempt has been made to preserve the international flavor of the Handbook. I am indebted to my colleagues in the thermoelectric community who have again unselfishly contributed to this Handbook and to Pat Hyatt, who has assisted me in responding to the immense volume of e-mail correspondence during the past 18 months and for retyping many of the chapters. Finally, I thank my wife Barbara for her patience and understanding during the many hours I spent in collating material and editing this Handbook.

D.M. Rowe

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