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Microminiature thermionic converters

United States Patent

September 25, 2001
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Sandia National Laboratories - Visit the Intellectual Property Management and Licensing Website
Microminiature thermionic converts (MTCs) having high energy-conversion efficiencies and variable operating temperatures. Methods of manufacturing those converters using semiconductor integrated circuit fabrication and micromachine manufacturing techniques are also disclosed. The MTCs of the invention incorporate cathode to anode spacing of about 1 micron or less and use cathode and anode materials having work functions ranging from about 1 eV to about 3 eV. Existing prior art thermionic converter technology has energy conversion efficiencies ranging from 5-15%. The MTCs of the present invention have maximum efficiencies of just under 30%, and thousands of the devices can be fabricated at modest costs.
King; Donald B. (Albuquerque, NM), Sadwick; Laurence P. (Salt Lake City, UT), Wernsman; Bernard R. (Clairton, PA)
Sandia Corporation (Albuquerque, NM)
09/ 257,335
February 25, 1999
This invention was made with support from the United States Government under Contract DE-AC04-96AL85000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.