LG Innotek has succeeded in its development of thermoelectric semiconductors that are made from nano-polycrystalline materials. The product is scheduled to enter mass production in the first half of next year.
The thermoelectric semiconductor is a component that can perform cooling and heating functions by providing the component with electricity and can use temperature difference to produce electrical power. It uses the "Peltier effect", which generates heat on one side and cools on the other side when electricity runs through the semiconductor, as well as the "Seebeck effect", which generates electric power when there is a temperature difference between both sides.
The nano-polycrystalline material was created by realizing an ultra-fine crystalline structure in the scale of nanometers, meaning one over a billion meters. The company has improved the rigidity and efficiency of the material compared to those of the previous single crystalline material and may expand the application range to vehicles and ships.
The newly developed material's rigidity is higher than that of the single crystalline ones by more than 2.5 times, which makes it an advantage. Also, the semiconductor employs an independent module structure with minimized heat resistance, which gives it a cooling efficiency that is 30% higher than that of a single crystalline thermoelectric semiconductor module, lowering electric power consumption by as much as 30% during a cooling process at the same temperature.
Home appliances such as refrigerators and water purifiers can benefit from smaller sizes and lower noise levels when they are equipped with LG Innotek's thermoelectric semiconductor. If the noise level of a small compressor-type refrigerator is 29dB, it can be brought down to as low as 19dB if the product uses the thermoelectric semiconductor. This value is even lower than the noise level in a broadcasting studio (20dB). Home appliances can also be made smaller and slimmer than the compressor-type products by up to 40%.
Such technology can be applied to the communication sector as well. Optical communication components that fail to maintain a constant temperature level can have problems such as wavelength fluctuation and output decrease, which deteriorate data transmission efficiency and may affect communication performance. Deploying the new semiconductor to data transmission devices such as optical transceiver can maintain the temperature of the optical communication components at a constant level, which can minimize data loss.
Another advantage is that, when the semiconductor is applied to vehicles and ships, the waste heat generated from their operation can be converted into electricity, which can reduce both the amount of required fuel and the harmful gas emission. Taking a 1600cc diesel car as an example, if its fuel efficiency is 18km per liter, applying the thermoelectric semiconductor can improve the efficiency by 9~12% and up to 19.8km per liter. When applied to ships, it provides the benefit of lower carbon dioxide emission, which can give ship builders an edge in responding to the 'Global Sulphur Cap 2020" set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is expected to undergo an update and become stricter in 2020.
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