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The Peltier effect is a type of thermoelectric effect that is observed in an electric circuit. It was named after Jean Charles Athanase Peltier, the physicist who discovered the effect in 1834. Peltier discovered that when current is made to flow through a circuit consisting of two different types of conductors, a heating or cooling effect is observed at the junctions between the two materials. This change in temperature at the junction is called the Peltier effect.
When electric current is passed through a circuit consisting of two different conductors, a cooling effect is observed in one junction whereas another junction experiences a rise in temperature. This change in temperatures at the junctions is called the Peltier effect. The effect is found to be even stronger when two different semiconductors are used in place of conductors in the circuit.
For example, when copper wire and bismuth wire are connected in an electric circuit, heat is generated at the point where current passes from copper to bismuth, and a drop in temperature occurs where the current passes from bismuth to copper. This effect is reversible in nature. The heating or cooling effect observed at a junction can be reversed by changing the direction of the current flow.
The phenomenon behind the Peltier effect is used in the function of thermoelectric heat pumps and thermoelectric cooling devices. It is also used for cooling computers and other electronic equipment when other methods are not feasible.