Cooler technology offers breakthrough in heat transfer for microelectronics

1 min read

Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new technology which it claims has the potential to dramatically alter the air cooling landscape in computing and microelectronics.

The patent pending Sandia Cooler is a proprietary air cooling system developed by Sandia researcher Jeff Koplow, pictured. He believes the technology will significantly reduce the energy needed to cool the processor chips in data centers and large scale computing environments. In a conventional cpu cooler, the heat transfer bottleneck is the boundary layer of dead air that clings to the cooling fins. With the Sandia Cooler, heat is transferred across a narrow air gap from a stationary base to a rotating structure. The normally stagnant boundary layer of air enveloping the cooling fins is subjected to a centrifugal pumping effect, causing the boundary layer thickness to be reduced to 10x thinner than normal. According to Koplow, this reduction enables a dramatic improvement in cooling performance within a much smaller package. The high speed rotation of the heat exchanger fins is also said to minimise the problem of heat exchanger fouling. "The way the redesigned cooling fins slice through the air greatly improves aerodynamic efficiency, which translates to extremely quiet operation," said Koplow. "The technology has been verified on a proof of concept prototype approximately sized to cool computer cpus, but also shows great potential for personal computer applications." If the technology proves amenable to size scaling, Koplow says it has the potential to decrease overall electrical power consumption by more than 7%.