What is a TEC Controller?

June 14, 2019

A thermoelectric cooler (TEC) is used to transport heat away from an object in order to maintain an ideal temperature. The TEC achieves this through the Peltier Effect, which enables the transfer of heat energy between two materials when an electric current passes through. A TEC controller produces and maintains this electric current in order to achieve the desired temperature.

The TEC controller applies electric current to the TEC, causing a DC current to flow in one direction through the elements in the TEC. The TEC controller first determines the desired temperature setpoint and then applies the appropriate electric current needed to achieve the desired temperature. With the current flowing in one direction, it causes heat to transfer from one plate of the TEC to the other. The current can be reversed in order to reverse the heat transfer to the opposite side.


Elements of a TEC Controller 

There are a few different components that control the electric current and heat transfer inside a TEC. A temperature sensor (often a thermistor) measures the temperature on the cold side of the TEC (or of the component being cooled) and compares that value to the target object that it's cooling. The control block then tells the driver stage how much current to apply to the TEC. In a persistent feedback loop that is continuously comparing the actual temperature to the setpoint, the controller will in real time adjust the TEC current required to maintain the temperature setpoint. This continuously active feedback loop allows TECs that are paired with controllers to precisely maintain temperature setpoints even in the face of dramatically varying ambient or heat pumping conditions.

Phononic's TECs

High-quality TECs from Phononic offer a number of advantages. They are more efficient at generating heat with less power consumption. Our TECs deliver up to 60% higher heat pumping density and up to 30% lower energy consumption as compared to typical performance. We offer customizable TEC solutions for all common transceiver laser package types: TOSA, SFP, QSFP and OSFP.