Researchers at several universities in the southern and western parts of the United States have recently made advances in one of the ongoing issues that has troubled the electronics industry for the past two decades: as electronic devices and equipment become increasingly smaller and more powerful, they generate more heat within a smaller amount of space and increase the potential for overheating.
Associate professor Ronggui Yang of the University of Colorado, assistant professor of mechanical engineering Dong Liu of the University of Houston and president G.P. “Bud” Peterson of the Georgia Institute of Technology collaborated on the issue by experimenting with silicon nanowires integrated in a microchannel heat sink consisting of parallel fluidic conduits approximately as deep as the width of two human hairs. The team utilized a heat-transfer technique known as flow boiling by pumping coolant through the flow channels to initiate a liquid-vapor phase change; the integrated nanowires enhanced the heat transfer while suppressing common factors such as flow blockage and instability.
Though the team’s experiment is one of the first efforts utilizing the techniques, the team is hopeful about the potential for use in electronics cooling applications for tiny, future electronics and intends to experiment further with designing advanced cooling systems for 3D electronics. The research was published in the American Chemical Society’s monthly peer-reviewed Nano Letters journal.