Impact of thermal radiation on the performance of ultrasmall microcoolers

Ryan P. Shea, Anand S. Gawarikar, Joseph J. Talghader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


On extremely small scales, traditional microcooler performance estimates must be corrected to include losses due to radiation. We present a method for analysis of microcoolers having a significant radiative contribution to their thermal conductance. We have fabricated ultrasmall microcoolers from sputtered Bi2Te3/Sb2Te3 thermoelectric junctions with cooling volumes of 200 μm × 200 μm × 65 nm, which we believe to be the smallest microcoolers ever made. The devices are highly thermally isolated with total thermal conductance under 5 × 10 -7 W/K in vacuum at room temperature. By fitting the temperature response to input power of the devices in vacuum, we have quantified the nonlinearity of the response to calculate the radiative and film contributions to the total thermal conductance of the device. Three device geometries are presented, with radiative contributions to thermal conductance of 15%, 26% and 100% depending on their emissive area and support structure. The cooling capabilities of these devices are also measured with maximum cooling of 3.1 K for the 15% radiation-limited device and 2.6 K for the 26% radiation-limited device, with power consumptions below 5 μW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1870-1876
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Electronic Materials
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank DARPA MTO for their support under Army Research Office Contract W911QX-12-C-0002. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the US Government.


  • MEMS
  • Microcooler
  • heat transfer
  • radiation


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