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Sensors and Actuators B 26-27 (1995) 303-307

New concept of integrated Peltier cooling device for the
preventive detection of water condensation
P. Ancey a, M. Gschwind a, O. Vancauwenberghe b
IMRA Europe S.A., BP 213, 220 rue Albert Caquot, 06904 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
b ESIEE, Laboratoire de Syst~mes Micro-~lectroniques (LSM), BP 99, 2 bd. Blaise Pascal, 93162 Noisy-le-Grand Cedex, France


A new sensor c o n c e p t for the preventive d e t e c t i o n of w a t e r c o n d e n s a t i o n is p r e s e n t e d . Based on the Peltier effect, this
sensor should b e able to detect, on any surface, the c o n d e n s a t i o n probability m e a s u r e d as the small difference b e t w e e n surface
t e m p e r a t u r e a n d dew-point t e m p e r a t u r e . It is c o m p o s e d of a sensitive area a n d a Peltier device a n d is linked to the surface
t h r o u g h a h e a t sink. T h e Peltier device g e n e r a t e s a t h e r m a l oscillation on the sensitive area, while the h e a t sink stays at the
surface t e m p e r a t u r e . A c o n d e n s a t i o n probability is d e t e c t e d by the c h a n g e in oscillation frequency, since the c o n d e n s a t i o n
energy d u e to d r o p l e t f o r m a t i o n introduces a delay in the t h e r m a l cycle. D e t e c t i o n efficiency d e p e n d s on the device d i m e n s i o n s
a n d on the materials. Peltier devices m a d e with b i s m u t h - t e l l u r i d e in bulk allowed us to validate the sensor concept. W e
p r e s e n t e x p e r i m e n t a l results and simulation for these devices. However, t h e t h e r m a l inertia of such devices was harmful to
t h e r e s p o n s e time. A c o m p u t e r model was developed a n d used to optimize a low-thermal-inertia s t r u c t u r e b a s e d on a
m i c r o m a c h i n e d m e m b r a n e , which will b e realized using microtechnology.
Keywords." Peltier cooling devices; Water condensation; Dew-point sensors

1. Introduction

Our purpose is to develop a mist detector in order
to prevent water condensation on a given surface, the
main application being dew prevention on automotive
In order to solve this problem in an automotive
environment, we investigated many hygrometry sensors
on the market [1], but none of them could satisfy our
severe specifications.
In the field of dew-point sensors, the Peltier effect
is often used to cool down a surface and reach the
ambient air dew-point temperature. At this temperature,
water vapor from air condenses on the cold surface
and another apparatus is used to detect the exact
temperature at which the condensation begins. The
detection is usually realized by optical, electrical, caloric,
radiometric or gravimetric means [1,2]. Despite their
accuracy, such sensors are often complex, expensive,
slow in response and not well fitted for the preventive
detection of water condensation on an arbitrary surface.
Moreover, this detection system requires 2 or even 3
sensors to evaluate air dew-point and surface temperature, and to detect mist formation on the surface.
We present a new sensor concept able to detect in
advance the mist formation on any surface. It was
0925-4005/95/$09.50 © 1995 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved
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developed to surpass all the required specifications in
the scope of cheap, large-scale production. The novelty
of our sensor [3] is to use the transient Peltier effect,
combined with the Seebeck effect, in order to gather
on the same chip:
(1) the cooling device;
(2) the dew detection; and
(3) the surface temperature measurement.
This original approach allows reduction of the sensor
complexity and the total number of sensing devices.
In order to validate the concept, we first developed
a sensor with classical Peltier devices using BizTe 3
material in bulk. This material is well known for its
good thermoelectric properties [4], and we present in
Section 3 a theoretical analysis and experimental results
of a BizTe3-based sensor. In order to further optimize
performance and cost, we investigated other materials
and sensor geometries and designed structures combining the fast cooling effect [5] and compatibility with
silicon planar technology and anisotropy etching.

2. Principle of measurement

Our purpose is to detect high misting risk, reached
when the controlled surface temperature Ts approaches

. where Tm is the average temperature. we produce a thermal oscillation whose frequency is time shifted proportionally to a misting risk (i.Td >AT) i tti~h risk ..' 100~ . 3. taking into account its temperature dependence. it should be noted that a Seebeck voltage appears through the Peltier device owing to the temperature difference induced between the sensitive area at Tp and the heat sink at Ts. R(Tm)I is roughly 3 times greater than o~T. we developed an analytical model taking into account the main sensor characteristics under real dynamic operation. This is used to generate the thermal oscillation: when ITp(t)-Ts[ reaches the AT value. Representationof the high mistingrisk region in the wet air diagram.I (2) .P. In principle. With the appropriate measurement electronics. the junction is cooled or heated. / Sensors and Actuators B 26-27 (1995) 303-307 304 the humid air dew-point temperature Td..0 0 40 50 ~r Temperature (°C) Fig. while allowing dynamic thermal decoupling between them. In that case. If we alternately cycle the current direction in the sensor.~ • 0 10 i i w 20 • ?.e. Concept evaluation Condensauon F Cycle period ! No condensation risk (Ts .o0c~ ' 20. . In order to extract the effective Seebeck signal from the sensor. 1.. In parallel... in order to make accurate and reliable measurements. Tp ' ~/L !~ tp tp_ref ~. a the Seebeck coefficient.. = L + a T (1) Sensor detection occurs in a range of AT degrees above the dew-point temperature of the air surrounding the controlled surface... R(Tm)I can be 1000 times greater than the useful Seebeck signal. over time the average sensor temperature remains equal to the controlled surface temperature T.. we need to compensate ohmic resistance.. the sensor should not modify significantly the controlled surface state. 2) on a small sensitive area. At the same time. the sensor sensitive area reaches the surrounding air dew-point temperature and a signal shift is recorded due to the absorption of latent energy during water condensation... The total signal Us recorded on the sensor includes a pure resistive signal (R/) and the Seebeck tension: . Under such conditions. while in the case of thin films. the current is inverted. Such conditions can be obtained by using a performance Peltier element and through an optimized sensor design that will increase steady-state coupling between the contrt~lled surface and the sensitive area. The high misting risk region is represented by the dashed part of the wet air diagram in Fig 1. we continuously monitor the temperature difference (Tp(t)-Ts). while the rest of the Peltier device is kept at the temperature T~ of the surface on which condensation must be detected.. The signal frequency is important for improving thermal decoupling between the sensitive part and the surface we want to control.1_0~ Us = R(Tm)I + ~[ Tp(t) . We note that the electrical resistance varies according to the average temperature (Tin) of the Peltier device. For BizTe3 in bulk. a smaller Ts-Td difference) that corresponds to an increasing amount of condensed water. (Ts . and the sensitive area temperature Tp oscillates around this temperature: T. A high condensation risk occurs when there is a small difference between T~ and Te. 2.T. Ancey et al.Td < AT) tp ref L tp Fig.. we designed a prototype with bulk Bi2Te3 Peltier devices in order to evaluate the experimental behavior of the sensor. In order to study detection feasibility. and I the current intensity in the Peltier. the sensitive area should oscillate in temperature around the tem- perature of the controlled surface. The Peltier effect at a junction between two different materials is reversible: depending on the current direction. In addition.. We use this property to generate a thermal oscillation (Fig. S c h e m a t i c r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f the t e m p e r a t u r e of the sensitive a r e a (Tp) d u r i n g m e a s u r e m e n t .

. the average temperature less than or equal to the initial surface temperature. Simulation Fig.Tj) J with Kit the heat exchange coefficients.1. For the present simulation it was set at 7 × 1 0 -3 . 3 describes the sensor structure based on Bi2Te 3 in bulk as it was simulated. the sensor shows a great dT M --~ = A T . 8.. Xxa the water vapor concentration in air. Signal recorded at different Ta values for an initial surface temperature at T .P. water surface and water diffusivity in air [6]. B includes inner sources inside the material due to the Joule effect: or the latent energy from the water evaporation and condensation: dMw 0--7- (7) ! il !I !!il i (i~1 22. Sensoroperatlon with balancedcurrent (+ 100 mA).0 I! i i 'I i i ii!l I~ ! ~i !'I' ~ii I! ir ~ " ! L i i: ii{ I' I 'i! 20. which is temperature dependent: Pel = +cd (4) We used a monodimensional finite difference scheme to describe heat exchanges between nodes: (5) Qi = E K o ( T i . we notice that the steady-state average temperature is above the initial surface temperature. We used a simple nodal model in the following form: Fig. Sensor description for the computer model..-.0 2..0: w dt =£'w(Ta . 4 shows the temperature T o when heating current and cooling current are equal to 100 mA. 5 and Table 1 illustrate the frequency shift recorded for different misting risks. under steady-state conditions. 18] 0 "i 0]25. This model was useful to evaluate the system sensitivity and feasibility in dynamic mode and with a variable mass of water condensed on the surface. Fig. 22 20 . the cooling current is 115 mA instead of 100 mA in order to exactly balance the Joule effect. Ancey et al. with To increasing from a temperature below 18 °C (curve 1) to 20 °C (curve 5). //////'ff~ [:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:':'~ Peltie.2.C Fig.. / Sensors and Actuators B 26-27 (1995) 303-307 305 3..Ts) (8) gw = Zs(xxw-Xxa) (9) where s is the surface of the sensitive area. In Fig. = 2 0 °C and for A T = 2 °C.0 0.vanable water mass ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Detecting area E ~18 ~ 22:~ .5 Time (s) i Fig. and XTw the vapor concentration near the water surface..5 Time (s) 5..(T~)I 2 QL = L Temperature (°C) 24. 7//f////~ ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ~. 5. -.0 ~I i. In this case. ~ i' i :~' 1~ I :I I II lil !~' 18.. including the Peltier effect. and A is the heat exchange matrix. the current must be unbalanced (cooling current > heating current). impeding the preventive water detection. When condensation occurs. Z is a coefficient that depends on wind speed.18 o~22 wIN ~ 20~ Q. 3. 4. material Electrical junctions iiiiiiiiii!!i!!i!!i!i immii im•i•••ii•i i iIi i i i i i i i i i !i!i H!•H••ii •i•i i i i •i i i i i i i i i i i i i i Fig. . 5.B (3) M represents the mass matrix of the different nodes. with aM ~'oolirkK current 100 mA ~[ieatlngcurrent ]t~lmA (6) Qj = R. Theoretical analysis 3.. It is clear that sensor operation is not symmetric around Ts owing to the Joule effect in the sensor. In order to have.

.0 Table 2 Frequency variation at initial detection Period no. . the sensor has a poor time response (0. the Seebeck signal varies within + 1. 1. .1 °C). .396 2 0. The glass was cooled from the outside.387 4 0. . .390 3 0. Frequency (Hz) 1 0. 8 shows an example of the micromachined structure we are investigating now.397 to 0. The devices in bulk BizTe3 have a large response time which depends on the sensor mass.0 18. They also have a low sensitivity to condensation owing to their small ratio of detecting area surface to the sensor mass. including 4 junctions as simulated in Section 3.. Signal variation recorded with unbalanced current.0 w .0 " l. we confirmed a certain number of assumptions concerning the sensor behavior and feasibility: It is proved that the sensor can be realized with commercialized Peltier devices. Y. measured for each period of Fig. . . . /. restricting work to the range of 1 Hz.e. 4. and correspond to those given in Table 2. .68 19. . due to negative Peltier power.. . Circled numbers indicate periods. 5. we considered the possibility of developing it in planar technology.( \"" \'4 /' v. sensitivity to the misting risk (i. 4.2 mV for a temperature oscillation of _+3 K. . . 6.0 23.18 ! //'~\. . .'/'.-160 m A) 3()j 5.. I As simulatedt/~::7~ ~3(~. . ..%- ! • l"~ .. .3. Discussion and future developments With the theoretical analysis and experimental study. .88 Teniperamre (°(q (('urrcnl : + 140.0 V ~4.386 Hz). / /" . it is also possible to alternate measurement periods with idle periods in order to avoid temperature drift during continuous usage."l 20 2. . The Peltier element is the heart of the sensor. Table 2 gives the frequency variations (from 0. 0. Ancey et a L I Sensors and Actuators B 26-27 (1995) 303-307 Table 1 Frequency variation vs. . . .. when Ts becomes close to T~). . .. . 7. /:' ' " I .: t 0. .. the Peltier device was fixed inside a climatic chamber on the internal side of a glass. 6. . . ".306 P. For this experiment. .5 3. . . '\'. . . .". 7 shows the frequency shift as measured when the misting risk increases. . 3. .0 .0 "~--' . Fig. In order to reduce sensor cost and to improve signal amplification.. Fig. . especially when the difference between surface and air dew-point temperatures decreases below AT~2. . 2..The sensor design can be optimized to allow good thermal decoupling between the sensor sensitive area and the surface under control.0 Time (s) Fig. .I 'L. 3. .1 °C). . .0 Time(s) •. . .. 4. . All the other parameters were kept at their physical values found in the literature [4]. when condensation occurs on the sensor detecting surface. with a heating current of 140 mA and a cooling current of 160 iliA. Experimental results We used commercial Bi2Te3 Peltier devices.2. 8.. . . we need to control asymmetric current in the heating and cooling mode.0 Tp . This structure should have a very low response time. . ." 't . balances exactly the heating due to positive Peltier power and to the Joule effect. If thermal symmetry cannot be achieved.In order to balance the Joule effect and other signal asymmetry.' it . Fig.. . . electncM junctions e /\ .0 2.5 3.386 Fig. I p / '~ t ~.. .3 s) and the measured signal is small for automotive applications.0 r . 6 shows an experimental validation of the simulation program developed. In this case the fitting parameters were the heat exchange between air and sensor surface and the contact conductivity between the sensor and the glass.31 Temperature (°C) (Cttrrent + 140/-160 mA) As measured 27. When cooling. Signal recorded when a frequency shift due to condensation occurs (Td=23. . %. . T sensor at the \ . Moreover. . The dew-point temperature was kept constant (T~ = 23. . This balance was effective in our case.~" .. we verify that the average sensor temperature is cycling symmetrically around the controlled surface temperature Ts. . ..0 < 18 4 19 3...'/ ". To for an initial surface temperature at T~= 20 °C and for A T = 2 °C Td (°C) Frequency (Hz) 31. but in this case.

no failures were recorded under normal operating conditions. Rosenzweig.L. A sensor based on this principle is under development with planar technology and silicon micromachining. it is possible to efficiently measure air or gas dew-points.1 mm. Conclusions The sensor concept to measure the misting risk on a surface has been validated through experimental tests and computer simulation.ow thermal !nertia k . 271-277. [2] P. p r . Process and device to detect a risk of water condensation on a surface being in contact with a humid air volume.The response time is very low. Pyc. Solid-state humidity sensors. . ~ . Fig. Sensors andActuators. Audet. This technology is very promising and could reduce the sensor price while allowing direct signal control and amplification on the sensor chip itself. . Ancey et al. 12 (1987) 179-184. 2nd edn. Fettig and J. Materials for thermoelectric energy conversion. . [5] U.The system reliability is high. London. [4] C.. However. References 5. 1986. Cauchepin. [6] J. . and results will be presented in a later publication. 8. Rep.. We are testing different materials such as polysilicon and FeSi2 in thin film coatings ( 2 / . 2 (1981/1982) 85-95• [3] M. Prog. Ancey. in the range of millivolts for polysilicon. Birkholz. 1989. During our two years of investigation and tests.i_ty • Si Poly-Si(N) "4' Poly-SRP) .Its maintenance constraints are very small.. ' /.. we plan to investigate thick films in the range of 0. m ) . Middelhoek and S.L. their electrical resistance reaches several kiloohms. 1994). p. New planar structure for the sensor. Eur. . even in a poor atmosphere with dust or other kinds of polluting gas. [1] S. .Its lifetime seems to be very long. . as is done with cold mirror technology.P. 118. for instance. which allows realtime control. St3N ~ A1 I 307 The main advantages of this sensor in comparison with other existing concepts are: . . Gschwind and P. as no specific chemical reaction or other adsorbing material is used. Fast semiconductor thermoelectric devices. Sensors and Actuators. Wood.. if we put the sensor on a precooled surface.A.There is a wide variety of possible applications. Silicon Sensors. Academic Press. but the main problem is to produce thin films of Peltier material. Acknowledgements This work is supported by the French Ministry of Research and Technology in the scope of a CIFRE contract with I M R A Europe SA. 94400355. / . on the order of a tenth of a millisecond. Patent No. . . 51 (1988) 459-539..7 (18 Feb. / Sensors and Actuators B 26-27 (1995) 303-307 Sensitive area : /'T = T s -+AT >i i l. These materials present better Seebeck coefficients.P. making the implementation of measurement electronics difficult. pp. The authors wish to thank Mr Husaunndee for technical work at IMRA and all the members of the microelectronics laboratory at E S I E E for their technical support and the useful discussions.\ Cavity: thermal insulator // :i i Silicon bulk High thermal inertia condensation must be detecled High LheLxnal cQn_ducti¥. In order to bypass this physical barrier. R. Regtien. For example. Paris. Phys. Le Recknagel: Manuel Pratique du Gdnie Climatique.