Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.M.E.

Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Nathan Crane, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Craig Lusk, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kyle Reed, Ph.D.

Keywords

Solder, Peltier Cooling, Surface Tension, Interfacial Energy, Energy Minimization

Abstract

The thermoelectric effect was discovered well over a century ago, yet performance has not shown improvement until recent years. Prior work has shown that the thermoelectric effect can be enhanced by the use of microscale pieces of thermoelectric material. Conventional assembly techniques are inadequate to deal with parts of this size, making it necessary to find a suitable alternative before these devices can be made economically. Capillary self-assembly is a promising alternative to conventional techniques. This method employs the use of preparing substrates with areas of favorable surface tension to place and align parts. Still, many obstacles have to be overcome to adapt this process for use of constructing thermoelectric coolers. The goal of this work is to overcome these obstacles and assess the viability of self-assembly for fabricating these devices. In effort to make the method more effective a process for creating more uniform deposits of solder is also assessed. This work shows that microscale thermoelectric elements can be assembled into functional thermoelectric devices using self-assembly techniques through the assembly of coolers in experimental work.

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