text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
News Archive
News by Research Area
Arctic & Antarctic
Astronomy & Space
Biology
Chemistry & Materials
Computing
Earth & Environment
Education
Engineering
Mathematics
Nanoscience
People & Society
Physics
 

Email this pagePrint this page


Press Release 04-039
A Tiny Wind to Cool the Tiniest Circuits

Researchers develop miniature cooling system that generates nanoscale breezes

Diagram of Microscale Ion Driven Air Flow.

This diagram depicts one version of a new type of cooling technology for computers.
Credit and Larger Version

March 31, 2004

ARLINGTON, Va.óResearchers have crafted miniature cooling systems similar in concept to the silent fans now available to filter and circulate the air in homes, but the miniscule "fans" are only microns (millionths of a meter) across. Using minute voltages, the devices generate ions that discharge to create small breezes -- perfect for cooling cell phones, laptop computers, and the tiniest devices.

As electronics shrink, so must the cooling systems that keep them from overheating. The new technology developed at Purdue University is at the right scale for tiny electronic machines. The system's electrodes are crafted from carbon nanotubes only five nanometers (billionths of a meter) across at the tip, and the device does not use water or other cumbersome cooling fluids.

As power per chip shrinks, hotspots are confined to a smaller place and localized, says Richard Smith, a thermal systems expert and the National Science Foundation program officer who oversees some of the Purdue research team's funding. In this research, the total amount of energy to dissipate is not as important as the energy dispersed at such a fine scale.

The researchers behind this discovery include: Suresh Garimella, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, West Lafyette, Ind. and the NSF Compact High Performance Cooling Technologies Research Center (CTRC); Timothy Fisher, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the university; Daniel J. Schlitz , who recently earned a doctoral degree from Purdue; and doctoral student Vishal Singhal. Schlitz and Singhal were awarded business startup funds from Purdue to commercialize the cooling system.

What the researchers say:

"This device has the potential to make a cooling system that is an order of magnitude smaller than current technology." - Dan Schlitz

"The exciting attribute of this work is that it has the potential to provide heat removal rates that are similar to that of liquid cooling, but accomplishes this with air and in a very compact volume." - Suresh Garimella

NSF comments regarding the research discovery:

"Temperature control of sub-millimeter electronic systems is critical for a wide variety of advanced technologies that rely on computer chips and small-scale electronics." - Richard Smith

"Cooling with air, if successful, is an elegant solution because air is readily available and doesn't need to be stored, and unlike some other chemicals, air is part of our environment, not a potential contaminant." - Richard Smith

"Novel cooling techniques may prove essential for the next generation of laptop computers, cell phones, sensing systems, and many other types of portable microelectronics." - Richard Smith

-NSF-

For additional information, see the Purdue University release at:
http://news.uns.purdue.edu/UNS/html4ever/2004/040322.Garimella.nanolight.html

Compact High Performance Cooling Technologies Research Center (CTRC)
www.ecn.purdue.edu/CTRC

Media Contacts
Josh Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-7730, jchamot@nsf.gov
Emil Venere, Purdue University, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Program Contacts
Richard Smith, NSF, (703) 292-8371, rnsmith@nsf.gov

Principal Investigators
Suresh Garimella, Purdue University, (765) 494-5621, sureshg@ecn.purdue.edu

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/

 

Photo showing electrodes in a "pumping region" of the device.
This photo shows electrodes in a "pumping region" of the device.
Credit and Larger Version

Close-up photo of electrodes in the "pumping region" of a new type of cooling technology f
This is a close-up photo of electrodes in the "pumping region" of a new type of cooling te
Credit and Larger Version



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page