Progress in electrocaloric cooling

A team of researchers develop a new material with electrocaloric effects over a wider temperature range.

Studies on magnetic and electrocaloric cooling are increasing over the years. These technologies are promising to avoid the use of refrigerants and thus reduce the impact of the refrigeration sector on the environment.

Nevertheless, these technologies are showing limits for the moment, because practical magnetocaloric working bodies driven by permanent magnets, and electrocaloric working bodies driven by voltage, display temperature changes of up to 3 K only.

A new team of researchers at the University of Cambridge studied a new electrocaloric material: composed of oxygen and three metallic elements: lead, scandium, and tantalum (elements known as PST); it has significant electrocaloric effects resulting in a temperature change of up to 5.5 K

In work in progress, thermal changes are driven by voltage (instead of pressure), which avoids the use of magnets. The PST withstands high voltages and produces cooling over wider temperature ranges.

The team will now look at the microstructure of this material to apply even greater tensions.

The results of the experiment were published in the journal Nature.

The IIR is organising an international conference on caloric cooling and caloric applications every two years. The next edition will be held in Maryland from June 7 to 10, 2020. More information: