The latest generation of Peltier cooling modules can be a powerful addition to a designer’s thermal management toolbox. Robust and reliable, they can cool an IC or various other components – such as an LED or laser diode – to a target temperature and ensure stability even if the load changes rapidly. The modules are active devices that are powered by a current source to maintain the temperature difference between their cold and hot sides. They can also cool components to below their ambient temperature, giving greater scope to boost the reliability or optimize performance of cooled components.
Designing-in a Peltier module requires knowledge of the cold-side temperature, which corresponds to the desired temperature of the device being cooled, and the maximum temperature difference between the hot and cold plates. The operating current and the voltage compliance required of the current source can be calculated using the thermal and electrical characteristics presented graphically in the module datasheet. Success depends on good characterization data, and basic familiarity with the way the modules operate.
On CUI Devices’ blog, Bruce Rose has written a post titled, “How to Select A Peltier Module”, which describes the operating principles of Peltier modules, illustrates a typical mechanical assembly comprising the element, thermal interface materials and the device to be cooled, and shows how to combine application cooling requirements and the datasheet performance curves to select the proper module for a specific design.