Heat transfer and thermoelectric voltage at metallic point contacts

Patrick Phelan, O. Nakabeppu, K. Ito, K. Hijikata, T. Ohmori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Metallic point contacts have been extensively studied from the viewpoint of their interesting, and often nonlinear, electrical properties. Their thermal characteristics, however, have largely been ignored, even though they show great potential as microscale temperature sensors. It has been previously demonstrated that when a temperature drop exists across a point contact consisting of two identical metals, a thermoelectric voltage can be generated, provided the mean contact radius is comparable in size to the electron mean free path. In the present experimental study, a point contact is formed by pressing a sharply etched Ag whisker against either an Ag or a Cu flat plate. In addition to confirming the previous results, the feasibility of using such a point contact is demonstrated by calibrating the voltage output against the nondimensionalized plate temperature. Furthermore, the thermoelectric voltage at an Ag-Cu point contact is also presented, showing that a point contact made from dissimiliar metals is even more promising than one made from identical materials. Finally, the point-contact thermal resistance is shown to depend nonlinear ly on the electrical resistance, or contact area, and on the temperature drop

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-762
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Heat Transfer
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Cryogenics
  • Direct-Contact Heat Transfer
  • Measurement Techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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