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Breakthrough in Microelectronics' Cooling

Category: CPU Cooling, Science & Technology
Posted: 06:38PM

Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories have developed a new technology that may greatly affect air-cooling of microelectronics. Current air cooling systems can suffer from “dead air” around cooling fins and act as a boundary. Their creation minimizes the thickness of that layer of air by as much as 90%. This could reduce the overall consumption of electricity in the USA by more than 7%, if implemented in more than just computers and servers. The current focus is the information technology sector in the USA, which has a yearly electric bill around seven billion dollars, and growing.

What the team has created is the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger, also called the Sandia Cooler, and at first glance, just looks like a heat sink with radial fins in a tight spiral. When in use though, the cooler spins, pulling air in from above and forcing it out of the sides. This obviously enhances the heat transfer from the electronics to the environment, but also causes the reduction in dead air. Because of the aerodynamics of the cooler, it is extremely quiet. The team has also stated that the technology can be scaled to different sizes, allowing for wider implementation than just electronics.

(Image is a composite of those used in the source article. Please visit the link for larger views.)

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malmsteenisgod on July 12, 2011 06:43PM
It should read "Heat Exchanger" and "heat sink". Does anyone edit the news articles? :P
Guest_Jim_* on July 12, 2011 07:01PM
Corrected the off letter and changed it from "sync" to "sink," as you ask. The latter was because I think of it as trying to synchronize the temperatures, so I didn't notice it as being wrong. Anything else I missed?
malmsteenisgod on July 12, 2011 07:20PM
Looks good. I got a good laugh out of "Hear Exchanger". :D
SpeedCrazy on July 12, 2011 08:06PM
Isn't the transfer of heat to the fins hampered by not being in solid contact with the chip? I mean if its spinning only the spindle can have solid contact with both surfaces.
Guest_Jim_* on July 13, 2011 06:27AM
I removed the labels of the diagram for the thumbnail, but if you look at the original diagram from the source you see there is a stationary base and the fins on top of it. That's the red part and the orange is the base of the rotating part.
Comp Dude2 on July 13, 2011 11:46AM
Cool, though at that size we'd need huge IHSs, and they would need to be of very high quality. However it is nice to see progress in coolers and I'm sure they'll think of many uses once the creases have been ironed out.
Comp Dude2 on July 13, 2011 12:13PM
Actually both the IHS size and quality issues are discussed in the white paper and will apparently not be a problem... happy days :)

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