Duke University develops droplet-based cooling technique for microchip hotspots

Posted on Thursday, Apr 06 2017 @ 14:31 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Duke University engineers came up with a new technology to cool hotspots in microchips. The technique, which was created in cooperation with Intel engineers, involves droplets that jump toward thermal hotspots to bring cooling where it is needed most. It relies on a vapor chamber with a super-hydrophobic floor with a sponge-like ceiling. The jumping-droplet technology promises to beat existing heatspreaders but more work is required as they're still struggling with finding materials that can work with high-heat vapor over the long term.
Passive cooling structures integrated into the floor of the device then carry away the heat, causing the water vapor to condense into droplets. As the growing droplets merge, they naturally jump off the hydrophobic floor and back up into the ceiling beneath the hotspot, and the process repeats itself. This happens independent of gravity and regardless of orientation, even if the device is upside-down.

The technology has many advantages over existing cooling techniques. Thermoelectric coolers that act as tiny refrigerators cannot target random hotspot locations, making them inefficient for use over large areas. Other approaches can target moving hotspots, but require additional power inputs, which also leads to inefficiencies.

A schematic of how the new jumping droplets electronics cooling system works The jumping-droplet cooling technology also has a built-in mechanism for vertical heat escape, which is a major advantage over today’s heat spreaders that mostly dissipate heat in a single plane.
More details can be read at Duke's website.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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