Microchip Cooling Innovation

Posted on August 18, 2007  Comments (0)

New technology has dramatic chip-cooling potential for future computers

The Purdue University researchers, in work funded by Intel Corp., have shown that the technology increased the “heat-transfer coefficient,” which describes the cooling rate, by as much as 250 percent. “Other experimental cooling-enhancement approaches might give you a 40 percent or a 50 percent improvement,” said Suresh Garimella, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue. “A 250 percent improvement is quite unusual.”

The experimental cooling device, which was fabricated on top of a mock computer chip, works by generating ions – or electrically charged atoms – using electrodes placed near one another. The device contained a positively charged wire, or anode, and negatively charged electrodes, called cathodes. The anode was positioned about 10 millimeters above the cathodes. When voltage was passed through the device, the negatively charged electrodes discharged electrons toward the positively charged anode. Along the way, the electrons collided with air molecules, producing positively charged ions, which were then attracted back toward the negatively charged electrodes, creating an “ionic wind.”

This breeze increased the airflow on the surface of the experimental chip. Conventional cooling technologies are limited by a principle called the “no-slip” effect – as air flows over an object, the air molecules nearest the surface remain stationary. The molecules farther away from the surface move progressively faster. This phenomenon hinders computer cooling because it restricts airflow where it is most needed, directly on the chip’s hot surface.

via: Purdue University’s Ionic Wind Engine

Related: More Microchip BreakthroughsSelf-assembling Nanotechnology in Chip ManufacturingDelaying the Flow of Light on a Silicon Chip

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