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This photo shows electrodes in a "pumping region" of the device.

Photo showing electrodes in a "pumping region" of the device.

Mechanical engineers at Purdue are developing a new type of computer cooling technology that uses a sort of nano-lightning to create tiny wind currents. This photo shows electrodes in a "pumping region" of the device. Clouds of ions created when electrons react with air are then attracted by these electrodes and "pumped" forward by changing the voltages in the electrodes. The researchers have demonstrated that the pumping concept works with a region of electrodes made of many series, each series containing three electrodes. The first in the series is the most positively charged, followed by an electrode that has a less-positive charge and then a third electrode that is negative. The voltages are rapidly switched from one electrode to the next in such a way that the clouds of ions move forward. The electrode voltages are switched roughly a million times a second, pushing the ion clouds forward and producing a cooling breeze.

Credit: Daniel J. Schlitz, Purdue School of Mechanical Engineering

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