Thermoelectric couples are solid-state devices capable of generating electrical power from a temperature gradient (known as the Seebeck effect) or converting electrical energy into a temperature gradient (known as the Peltier effect). Thermoelectric coolers, being solid state devices, have no moving parts which makes them inherently reliable and ideal for cooling components in a system sensitive to mechanical vibration. The ability to use TECs to heat as well as cool makes them suitable for applications requiring temperature stabilization of a device over a specified temperature range.

The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) is a facility being designed for scientific and industrial research and development. The SNS will generate and employ neutrons as a research tool in a variety of disciplines including biology, material science, superconductivity, chemistry, etc. The neutrons will be produced by bombarding a heavy metal target with a high-energy beam of protons, generated and accelerated with a linear particle accelerator, or linac. The low energy end of the linac consists of, in part, a multi-cell copper structure termed a coupled cavity linac (CCL).