Talk:Seebeck coefficient

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Can you quantify some different Seebeck coefficients? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:37, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

That's just what I thought ... the linked pages don't appear to have the details either. Found one reference (in an abstract) so adding it in. Pbhj (talk) 10:45, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

Remove the page "Thermopower" ?[edit]

Parthi, I quite agree with your "clean up" comments, but would go further: The term "Thermopower" is not one that's used in the field, we use the specific effects instead. A strong hint in this direction is that you won't find "Thermopower" in physics textbooks. You'll find thermo-electric effect, Seebeck, Thomson, and Peltier effects for example.

I'd suggest that this page be removed since the word, in essence, is not properly defined. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jpgcwiki (talkcontribs) 09:36, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Three of my coworkers are actively doing research on thermoelectrics, as did I last year. And I hear the term thermopower all the time. It's a synonym for Seebeck fact, it's very slightly more common to hear that someone measured "thermopower" than "Seebeck coefficient". Take a look at this list, you'll see all the papers that refer to "thermopower otherwise known as Seebeck coefficient". --Steve (talk) 15:39, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
(You may be thinking of "thermoelectric effect", which is indeed a generic term for Seebeck, Peltier, Thomson effects.) --Steve (talk) 16:55, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Sbyrnes: Although your colleagues may mention "Thermopower", that doesn't make it standard, textbook physics. You statement "thermopower" is equivalent to "seebeck coefficient" is wrong. The units are different. Incidentally, I'm an academic physicist on a permanent contract. I note that you've removed my amendments, including the reference which covers the subject.

               Jpgcwiki (talk) 13:28, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
I think the units of both thermopower and Seebeck coefficient are volts per kelvin. Which one do you disagree with, and what do you think the units are?
Here is a paper in Nature that says "thermopower" and "Seebeck coefficient" are synonyms, in the second sentence of the article. Here is another in the Journal of Materials Chemistry. Here is one in the Journal of Applied Physics. Here is one in Science. Here is the same statement in a book called "Thermoelectrics Handbook"! Is this enough? I could go on.
I don't have Sze, so I can't check how he defines thermopower. But if he says that thermopower and Seebeck coefficient are different, he's using an unusual definition of at least one of those, against the grain of how the term is used by most modern practitioners. --Steve (talk) 16:09, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Steve, S.M. Sze is the standard textbook in the field, at the undergraduate level - which is the level of this discussion. We do this kind of thing in the first or second year physics teaching laboratories. Which I have taught at university level. It is not deep nor unusual physics, on the contrary, it's basic which is why I am trying to correct it.

The edition I referenced is 2007, and is the state of the art. About units: Thermopower is not a agreed quantity in physics. However, "Power" is Watts, or J/s, that is, energy per second. It's wrong to equate this to volts per kelvin.

I'm going to leave it to you to amend this entry for now - but at the moment, it is incorrect. Please look over my prior amendment as a guide. And remember: Making Wikipedia more reliable and correct is not a question of "I was right!". The discussion we are having is a good illustration of the pitfalls of Wikipedia - which is why I am deliberately not reverting your latest edit. Jpgcwiki (talk) 09:44, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Hi Jpgcwiki,
Are you suggesting that "thermopower" and "power" have five overlapping letters, and therefore must have the same units? Surely you know that that is a silly argument. After all, electromotive force does not have units of Newtons. :-)
I love Sze's textbook, and have not previously known it to have mistakes or nonstandard terminology, but we should agree that this is a conceivable possibility. Above, I've shown you lots of papers and books (here's another book) that say "thermopower" and "Seebeck coefficient" are synonyms. You say Sze disagrees, and that Sze says "thermopower" is a synonym of "thermoelectric effect", i.e. everything related to Seebeck, Peltier, Thomson. Again, I don't have Sze, so I'll have to take your word for it that you're accurately quoting Sze. Does anyone in the world besides Sze agree with him on this? Apparently, the author of a book called "Thermoelectrics Handbook" thinks Sze is incorrect. What basis are you using to judge between these two experts, and to decide that Sze is correct and the author of the "Thermoelectrics Handbook" is wrong?
I reach a different judgment, because I've seen so many other articles and books that agree with the author of the "Thermoelectrics Handbook", and apparently none that agree with Sze.
I think we're having a great and productive conversation. Of course it's not a matter of who is correct, but rather what is correct, and I hope we can figure that out! :-) --Steve (talk) 16:10, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Steve: Textbooks take precedence over journal papers which are usually reviewed by 2 reviewers. This is obvious once you've reviewed a few. Your statement which I paraphrase as "Sze may conceivably make mistakes" is rhetorical in nature - particularly given the "I Love Sze ... but". Science is not about loving anything, or anyone.

Wikipedia has a big problem which is nicely illustrated here. That makes it a good reminder, but an unreliable introduction to most subjects. But I'm not about to embark on a Sisyphean mission to amend this or any other entry - and in fact, this Thermopower entry should be removed and merged with others as mentioned below. Jpgcwiki (talk) 17:18, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

This is a textbook. It disagrees with Sze.
I definitely agree: If I see an article and a textbook that disagree, the textbook is likely to be correct. But if I see 100 articles that agree with each other, and a textbook which disagrees, the textbook is likely to be wrong.
Sze may conceivably make mistakes. Yes. It's so obvious that you call it "rhetorical". The appropriate way to proceed, as always, is to not rely on only one source. --Steve (talk) 20:32, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
I just checked: In Kittel "Intro to Solid State Physics", "thermoelectric power" is used as a synonym for Seebeck coefficient, while "thermopower" isn't used or defined. --Steve (talk) 20:45, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
I just checked: The 1981 edition of Sze never uses the term "thermopower". Only "thermoelectric power", with the same specific definition as in this article. If you wouldn't mind, it would be very helpful if you could copy down the sentence(s) from the 2007 edition where Sze uses the exact word "thermopower" as a general term for Seebeck, Peltier, and Thomson effects. I'm surprised that Sze would have changed his terminology so drastically from one edition to another, so I'm very curious, if you get a chance. --Steve (talk) 00:48, 23 June 2009 (UTC)
OK, now I just checked the 2007 edition of Sze, and it's the same as the 1981 edition. You must have mis-read or mis-remembered the book. The book agrees with this article. --Steve (talk) 22:51, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

The pages with names [*therm*elec*] (including "Thermopower") should be cleaned up[edit]

Hello all, my name is Parthi. I'm new to editing wiki, so I'm not familiar with the procedures or terminology. I am, however, a member of the thermoelectric research community (3rd-year graduate student in Electrical Engineering under Prof. Rajeev Ram).

It seems to me that a bunch of pages (i.e. "thermoelectricity" and "thermogenerator") should be replaced by disambiguation pages. For example, in the case of the "thermoelectricity" page, the "see also" list seems like decent place to start, although there are several items on that list that plainly don't belong. In the case of the "thermoelectric effect" page, things seem to be in better shape. Nevertheless, the scope of the page should probably be defined with thought toward the set of all pages people might click on to learn about the phenomena of thermoelectricity and related applications.

I'm not sure who the admin for each of these pages is, but it seems like a worthy cause to link everything in this area together into two logically distinct pages:

[page #1] "Thermoelectric Effect":[edit]

A page describing generally the science of thermoelectricity. It should begin with the three traditional thermoelectric effects (Seebeck, Peltier, and Thomson). There should also be a brief mention of the figure-of-merit with links to the literature, since considerations of this quantity have an important influence on the community of scientists focusing on developing the new generation of thermoelectric materials.

I also believe a brief mention of other solid-state thermally-driven voltage-generating schemes belongs here, despite the fact that the research community refers to phenomena such as solid-state thermionics and nernst-effect devices distinctly from thermoelectricity. I believe this because the word thermoelectricity is often colloquially used as a catch-all term for solid-state thermal-to-electrical devices.

Finally, there should be a discussion of the thermodynamic properties of both generators and refridgerators based on these devices. Questions of reversibility should be addressed here. This section should also contain links to the generator and cooler pages.

The existing page satisfies most of these concerns and seems to have a legitimate scientific dialogue ongoing.

[page #2] "Thermoelectric Generator":[edit]

A page describing the development of high-power, efficient generators based on the effects described above. There is a body of information which I cannot find anywhere on wikipedia regarding such topics as the role of heat exchangers and segmentation/cascading in real generators.

This page should contain links to specific applications, such as RTGs (wiki:"Radioisotope thermoelectric generator"), waste-heat-recovery schemes in cars (wiki:"Automotive Thermoelectric Generators"), and more generally energy harvesting (wiki:"Energy harvesting"). There should also be a link to the cooler-device page (wiki:"Thermoelectric cooling") here.

I believe a new page should be created for this purpose, as no existing page seems to address this concern or contain nearly sufficient content to that end.


I would like to communicate with the admins of these pages to address these concerns. I would also like to take over the admin of any pages in this area that people are willing to part with. Does anyone know how this can be accomplished?

There are also a number of people more qualified than myself for this task (obviously, since I'm a graduate student), so if this is the case with the current admin, please let me know. I do not have much experience with wikipedia's admin/editing procedures, so I hope I'm not offending anyone.

Parthi.santhanam (talk) 21:07, 27 July 2008 (UTC)


Hello! First, you should know that particular articles don't have administrators. You just go ahead and make your edits. If you're uncertain of your edits, you can write what you plan to do on the talk page, and wait a few days to see if anyone has useful feedback to offer. There is such a thing as an administrator, but they serve a very different role (things like blocking vandals from editing). You might benefit from browsing WP:Welcome, or just try your best and learn as you go. Anyway, no one's in charge, and lots of articles (and subjects) are in the state they're in not because someone thought carefully through it and decided that that was best, but just because that's the way it was left and no one wants to clean them up. :-)

I don't think you should assume you're less qualified than other editors. On the contrary, being a grad student at a respected university specializing in this area, you would probably be among the most qualified active editors, if indeed you decide to become an active editor.

It's not unusual, at least in physics, for there to be a mess of articles on different aspects of the same subject, without a clear idea of which subjects are in the scope of which articles. It's a difficult but worthy goal to try to organize them. I won't offer specific feedback on your plan since I'm not familiar with most of the relevant pages and don't immediately feel like reading them. Maybe someone else will offer feedback though. There's also the page Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Physics where you can solicit advice from the general Wikipedia-physics-community, when the article talk pages aren't sufficient. Happy editing, --Steve (talk) 01:07, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Led to nowhere[edit]

At the end of the article, there is a brief list of materials with good Seebeck coefficient. I'm interested in bismuth telluride, but when I go to its article, it doesn't say how much that coefficient is (well, it does, but for a very high temperature, if I remember well. Can anyone knowing the subject add an estimate of the thermopower for Bi2Te3 at everyday temperature (20-35 °C), please? -- (talk) 20:17, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

I was just asking =(. -- (talk) 13:21, 4 August 2010 (UTC)
One year and two weeks later, when I no longer care about this, it saddens me that this question never got answered. Screw you!! -- (talk) 03:22, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Rather than getting angry, you might instead note that the purpose of Talk pages is to discuss edits to an article, not to have other people look up numbers for you. I would suggest asking your question on sites like, or look it up yourself at Mwistey (talk) 01:50, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Materials with high seebeck coefficient...hmmm...[edit]

'Mateirals with high Seebeck Coefficient(Thermopower)' is a very misleading section. Many horrible thermoelectric materials have high seebeck coefficients. ANY insulator has a huge Seebeck coefficient. Should this section be switched to 'Materials with high Power Factors' seeing as this is really what is looked for in application? The SrRuO3 example is a good example of how this is misleading. SrRuO3 is an average to poor thermoelectric oxide...and the quoted thermopower isn't exactly high - but it is reasonable for SrRuO3's conductivity.

I Think the section needs to be rewritten after a better explination of thermopower is discussed.... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Can we merge this with Thermoelectric effect?[edit]

It seems like thermopower contains a lot of parallel material from thermoelectric effect. Shall we merge them together? -- (talk) 18:29, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

  • The merge seems most appropriate. Mwistey (talk) 01:53, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I do not see "a lot of parallel material". I see 15% of one article which overlaps with 15% of the other article. The other 85% is different, with the content grouped together in a more-or-less logical way. I think a merged article would be hard to read because it would cover too many different (only slightly related) topics. That said, there is surely room for improvement in managing the overlapping area via better use of summary style. --Steve (talk) 14:44, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Reverting an added reference[edit]

See [1]. This has now been added twice and reverted (by me) twice. My complaint is that there are probably tens of thousands of papers on the topic of "materials with a high Seebeck coefficient". I don't think we are helping readers by citing one obscure random paper in that category—a paper which is not especially central or topical or accessible. If we want a citation here, it should at least be a review article. I'll add this one. I wonder whether the person adding this one obscure random paper is its author, engaging in self-promotion? Well, whether or not that's the case, it doesn't matter, I still think the reference should be deleted. Others are welcome to agree or disagree. --Steve (talk) 14:27, 16 January 2018 (UTC)