By Carmo, J.P.; Silva, M.F.; Ribeiro, J.F.; Wolffenbuttel, R.F.; Alpuim, P&perio
This paper presents an approach for generating a well-defined cooling pattern over an area of tissue. An array of solid-state microcoolers is used, which could be included in a probe that provides local cooling. This medical instrument can be used for removal of scar tissue in the eye or for the rapid stopping of bleeding due to micro-cuts, which makes it a useful tool to medical doctors and could make surgery more secure to the patient. The array of microcoolers is composed of 64 independent thermo-electric elements, each controlled using an integrated circuit designed in CMOS. The independent control allows the flexible programming of the surface temperature profile. This type of control is very suitable in case abrupt temperature steps should be avoided. Cooling by lateral heat flow was selected in order to minimize the influence of heat by dissipation from the electronic circuits. Moreover, a thermo-electric component with lateral heat allows fabrication of the cooling elements using planar thin-film technology, lithography and wet etching on top of the silicon wafer. This approach is potentially CMOS compatible, which would allow for the fabrication of the thermo-electric elements on top of a pre-fabricated CMOS wafer as a post-process step. Each pixel is composed of thin-films of n-type bismuth telluride, Bi2Te3 and p-type antimony telluride, Sb2Te3, which are electrically interconnected as thermocouple. These materials have excellent thermoelectric characteristics, such as thermoelectric figures- of-merit, ZT, at room temperatures of 0.84 and 0.5, respectively, which is equivalent to power-factors, PF, of 3.62 9 10-3 W K-1 m-2 and 2.81 9 10-3 W K-1 m-2, respectively. The theoretical study presented here demonstrates a cooling capability of 15 C at room temperature (300 K & 27 C). This cooling performance is sufficient to maintain a local tissue temperature at 25 C, which makes it suitable for the intended application. A first prototype was successfully fabricated to demonstrate the concept.