Experimental Design for Estimating Electro-Thermophysical Properties of a Thermopile Thermal Radiation Detector
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As the Earth's atmosphere evolves due to human activity, today's modern industrial society relies significantly on the scientific community to foresee possible atmospheric complications such as the celebrated greenhouse effect. Scientists, in turn, rely on accurate measurements of the Earth Radiation Budget (ERB) in order to quantify changes in the atmosphere. The Thermal Radiation Group (TRG), a laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, has been at the edge of technology designing and modeling ERB instruments. TRG is currently developing a new generation of thermoelectric detectors for ERB applications. These detectors consist of an array of thermocouple junction pairs that are based on a new thermopile technology using materials whose electro-thermophysical properties are not completely characterized. The objective of this investigation is to design experiments aimed at determining the electro-thermophysical properties of the detector materials. These properties are the thermal conductivity and diffusivity of the materials and the Seebeck coefficient of the thermocouple junctions. Knowledge of these properties will provide fundamental information needed for the development of optimally designed detectors that rigorously meet required design specifications.
- Masters Theses