Battery Designed for Powering and Cooling Computer Chips
There are a number of battery technologies out there that employ different methods to store and deliver electricity. Many store energy within their solid electrodes, but flow batteries actually use liquid electrolytes for storage. Today you can find large scale flow batteries used in stationary applications, but thanks to researchers at ETH Zurich and IBM Research Zurich we may see them coming to computing devices thanks to a clever use of the liquid electrolytes.
As the name indicates, the two liquid electrolytes in a flow battery move through it, and with the proper membrane is between them, an electrical current is produced like in any battery. What occurred to the researchers is that the electrolytes could also be used to transport heat away from a system, like a liquid cooling system for a computer. Instead of designing something comparable in size to an AIO cooler, the researchers went even smaller, making a battery just 1.5 mm thick so that it can be integrated into a chip stack. In a chip stack individual chips are stacked on top of each other to save space and energy, but by putting a thin battery micro-cell in between it is possible to power and cool the chips.
This micro-battery design offers a record-setting 1.4 W/cm2 (1 W/cm2 after subtracting the power to pump the electrolytes) and is able to dissipate more heat than what the battery generates as electrical energy. However further optimize is going to be needed because, record setting or not, it is not enough power for the computer chip to operate. Still, this is a promising proof-of-concept that may have potential in a variety of applications and could improve large-scale flow batteries as well.
Source: ETH Zurich