Most thermocouples that I've seen being sold online consist of two separate metal wires connected at junctions. Many smaller thermoelectric generators consist of a combination of iron and copper or iron and aluminum. However, I'm a tad confused why two different materials are being used.

If I take a look at the image below, I see that an n-type and p-type semiconductor is attached to a conducting wire with a heat source and heat sink on opposite ends. Do the semiconductor materials need to be different? For instance, can't I simply use n-type and p-type doped germanium? Why do I need to use two distinct metals? Is there a benefit, for instance using silicon for one and germanium for the other?

Does the circuit wire need to be a special alloy, or just regular copper wire to transfer current?

Ultimately, I'm a bit confused regarding the Seebeck Effect. I've seen this diagram, but also models with different alloys. Any clarification will be great!

Science ABC, Venkatesh (Image by Science ABC - Venkatesh Vaidyanathan)

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    $\begingroup$ Look up Peltier and Thompson effects. Thermocouple technology will also explain the principles. $\endgroup$ Jun 29 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know how Peltier and Thompson effects help me understand a Seebeck TEG. I have read about thermocouples, but I don't understand the need for two different alloys when it comes to current generation. I need some clarification whether two similar p and n type semiconductor might work. $\endgroup$
    – ARJ
    Jun 29 at 19:15

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