Boffins chill chip with ion wind
Fan efficiency increased
Scientists at Indiana's Purdue University have worked out to significantly increase the efficiency of kit designed to keep toasty microprocessors cool by zapping the air above the chip with a thousand Volts.
Coolers work by pulling air across a chip's upper surface to draws heat away from it. Unfortunately, interactions between air molecules akin to the surface tension that allows water and other liquids to form drops means that molecules close to the chip's surface don't move and this reduces the air streams ability to carry away thermal energy.
The solution proposed by the Purdue engineering school team is to set up a potential difference of 1000V across the surface of the chip. This ionises the air molecules, allowing them to move and form what's termed an 'ionic wind'.
But whatever you call it, the flow of ions makes the air near the chip surface less 'sticky', boosting the thermal flow.
The team tested the process using two electrodes placed 1cm apart on either side of a CPU. With a 1000V potential difference applied across the electrodes and a standard cooling fan in place, the team found that they could cool the processor to 95°C - the fan alone could only bring it down to 140°C.
In boffin-speak, that's a 250 per cent increase in the system's heat-transfer co-efficient, the researchers said.
However, there's more work to be done: specifically, the team wants to get the crucial voltage down, essentially if the technique's to be made practical to use in real computers. The group has in mind a collection of micron-spaced electrodes, each pair sufficiently close to that a much smaller potential difference will generate the same ionic wind.
voltage and power law
This test was a prototype using 1000 volts across a 1cm gap.
If the requisite voltage follows an inverse square law, the hoped-for 1 micron gap would need only 10 volts.
My thanks to The Register for actually reading the research paper and providing the experimental conditions that were absent from the Purdue press release.
Here's a DIY version
This dude has a neat site in general:
I'm off to the patent office
Anti-gravity gecko feet and ionized wind for directional control.
The future has arrived.
They must have been testing a new Intel chip, looks like Intel went the way of the super-heated chip again :D
They cooled a cpu to 140C using conventional cooling techniques? What sort of chip were they trying to cool??