Micropelt unveils power-efficient micro-cooler technology

AUGUST 19, 2009 -- The MPC-D403/404 TECs are fabricated with feature sizes of 45 µm, accommodating 50 thermocouples per square millimeter.

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AUGUST 19, 2009 -- Micropelt, a Freiburg, Germany-based manufacturer of thin-film thermoelectrics, has introduced the MPC-D40x series, a new generation of efficient thermoelectric coolers (TECs). Micropelt says its micro-structuring technology enables TECs with an electrical resistance of more than 30 Ohms on a single square millimeter footprint. The TEC, in combination with its controller system, can be driven at an efficiency of 90% and better. The company says this new approach will impact the system architecture of applications using small TECs including those where cooling is omitted for reasons of system cost and power dissipation. Applications include cooling of lower-power laser diodes and other active or passive devices in the telecom, photonics, optoelectronics, and sensor markets.

The MPC-D403/404 TECs are fabricated using semiconductor manufacturing processes that enable the company to produce the devices with feature sizes of 45 µm, accommodating 50 thermocouples per square millimeter (about ten times more than bulk Peltier technology can offer).

"Our micro-structuring technology is able to scale to application-specific dimensions, electrical requirements, and thermal properties," explains Joachim Nurnus, chief technology officer of Micropelt. "We measure drive currents 10 times smaller than those known for similar bulk TECs whose few thermocouples create an electrical resistance much below 1 Ohm and hence a drive current well above 1 ampere."

The MPC-D40x series can pump over 600 mW with a drive current of 200 mA as required for thermal management of low-power edge-emitting lasers or vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). At low drive currents, the power efficiency of the TEC increases. At the same time, the design of the control circuitry can be simpler, which reduces the bill of materials and circuit board footprint.

"Everyone wants their transceiver modules to be smaller and more energy efficient," says Wladimir Punt, vice president of sales and marketing for Micropelt. "We analyzed the thermoelectric system architecture and concluded that for very small TECs the drive current is key to solving the prevailing power consumption and heat dissipation issues. Cutting the drive current by 90% can improve the overall cooling system efficiency by 50%, because the drive voltage remains at a level where buck regulators can provide good efficiencies. This will help photonic packaging and system designers to develop components consuming less energy, producing less heat, and fitting into smaller packages."

Micropelt says its wafer-based production technology brings economies of scale to the high-volume manufacture of TECs. The TEC control system not only benefits from standard, inexpensive, readily available, and ultrasmall TEC control circuit components, but its overall power efficiency results in reduced power consumption and heat dissipation on densely packed line cards.

Samples of Micropelt's MPC-D403 and MPC-D404 micro-coolers are now available.

Micropelt will be exhibiting at ECOC 2009, Sept. 21-23, in Vienna, Austria, at booth #631.

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