Tiny ionic wind engines dramatically improve computer chip cooling

The Purdue University researchers, in work funded by Intel Corp have demonstrated a new technology using tiny “ionic wind engines” that might dramatically improve computer chip cooling, possibly addressing a looming threat to future advances in computers and electronics. The Purdue University researchers have shown that the technology increased the “heat-transfer coefficient,” which describes the cooling rate, by as much as 250 percent. When used in combination with a conventional fan, the experimental device enhanced the fan’s effectiveness by increasing airflow to the surface of a mock computer chip. The new technology could help engineers design thinner laptop computers that run cooler than today’s machines.

The device was created at Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center in the university’s Discovery Park. The researchers quantified the cooling effect with infrared imaging, which showed the technology reduced heating from about 60 degrees Celsius – or 140 degrees Fahrenheit – to about 35 degrees C, or 95 F.

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