Thermoelectric coolers were expected to render ordinary mechanical refrigerators obsolete, but these semiconductor-based gadgets remain costly bit players in refrigeration. While the electric-powered devices today chill such items as space-borne sensors, plug-in beverage coolers, and luxury car seats, scientific progress on the materials underlying the devices hasn't moved much since the 1960s (SN: 9/6/97, p. 152: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc97/9_6_97/bob1.htm).
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