Design and Experimental Investigation of Thermoelectric Generators for Wearable Applications

Yun Goo Lee, Junsoo Kim, Min Su Kang, Seung Hyub Baek, Seong Keun Kim, Seung Min Lee, Jaewoo Lee, Dow Bin Hyun, Byeong Kwon Ju, Seung Eon Moon, Jin Sang Kim, Beomjin Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


A critical challenge in using thermoelectric generators (TEGs) for charging the portable or wearable electronics has been their limited outputs, as available temperature differential on human body (∆Text) is typically less than 10 K. Furthermore, the thermal resistance (Rth) at the TEG–air interface often overwhelms Rth of TEG itself, which makes the temperature differential within the TEG merely a small fraction of ∆Text. Here, the designs of TEG systems for wearable applications based both on theory and systematic experiments are studied. First, this study fabricates the TEGs having different fill factors (equivalently, varied internal Rth of the TEGs) and finds an optimum fill factor that is determined by both thermal matching condition and the electrical contact resistance. Next, to investigate the effects of heat sink and external air flow, this study combines plate fin heat sinks with the TEGs and evaluates their performance under three different convection conditions: natural convection, and convection with either parallel or impinging flow. Lastly the effect of Rth at the skin–TEG interface is studied. Although the TEG system produces an output power of 126 µW cm−2 (∆Text = 7 K) on a smooth heat source (Cu heater), it generates reduced power of 20 µW cm−2 (∆Text = 6 K) on wrist (uneven heat source).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1600292
JournalAdvanced Materials Technologies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • heat sinks
  • thermal resistance
  • thermoelectric generators
  • wearable electronics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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