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Transforming heat to electricity with semiconductors?

  1. Aug 6, 2013 #1
    Is it real? how does it work?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 6, 2013 #2

    mfb

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    You always need a heat difference - a warm area and a cold area. Photovoltaic cells do that in an indirect way (via light from the hot sun). Thermoelectric generators are a direct way to generate electricity from heat differences, but they don't need semiconductors.
     
  4. Aug 6, 2013 #3

    jtbell

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    According to precise usage in English-language textbooks, "heat" = "energy transferred because of a difference in temperature between two objects." Therefore in the OP's statement, "heat" is appropriate. "Heat difference" doesn't make sense here.

    (However, even many physicists get sloppy with this terminology sometimes. :uhh:)
     
  5. Aug 6, 2013 #4
    "More recent devices use semiconductor p–n junctions made from bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3), lead telluride (PbTe)"
    Wait you said that they don't need semi-conductors right?Then whats this?
     
  6. Aug 6, 2013 #5

    mfb

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    You can use them, you do not have to. That is an important difference.

    @jtbell: Oh, sorry. In German, you can describe both with "Wärme", I didn't know that heat is energy transfer only in English.
     
  7. Aug 7, 2013 #6
    But what makes the electrons move from one side to another? I get that electrons get more active but what makes them move in one direction?
     
  8. Aug 7, 2013 #7

    mfb

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  9. Aug 7, 2013 #8

    russ_watters

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    And we engineers ignore the difference completely, seeing it as trivial.
     
  10. Aug 7, 2013 #9
    Well, I know the very basics of thermodynamics and I can understand how wave functions work.
     
  11. Aug 7, 2013 #10
    Not in colloquial English, but in physics as jargon it has that specific meaning.
     
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