Superconducting tunnel-junction refrigerator

Robert G. Melton, James L. Paterson, S. B. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The dc current through an S1-S2 tunnel junction, with 2 greater than 1, when biased with eV<1+2, will lower the energy in S1. This energy reduction will be shared by the phonons and electrons. This device is shown to be analogous to a thermoelectric refrigerator with an effective Peltier coefficient *1e. Tunneling calculations yield the cooling power Pc, the electrical power Pe supplied by the bias supply, and the cooling efficiency =PcPe. The maximum cooling power is obtained for eV=(2-1) and t1=T1Tc10.9. Estimates are made of the temperature difference T2-T1 achievable in Al-Pb and Sn-Pb junctions with an Al2O3 tunneling barrier. The performance of this device is shown to yield a maximum cooling efficiency 1(2-1) which can be compared with that available in an ideal Carnot refrigerator of =T1(T2-T1). The development of a useful tunnel-junction refrigerator requires a tunneling barrier with an effective thermal conductance per unit area several orders of magnitude less than that provided by the Al2O3 barrier in the Al-Pb and Sn-Pb systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1858-1867
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1980

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics


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