A study on the new cooling method titled "High-efficiency cooling via the monolithic integration of copper on electronic devices" has been published in the journal Nature Electronics.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) have invented a new cooling solution for electronic devices, dramatically increasing space efficiency and the power per unit volume of the devices. The team sought to address three shortcomings they identified in current cooling solutions.
The first is that they "can be expensive and difficult to scale up." Secondly, conventional heat spreaders or heat sinks are attached to the top of a device, while most of the heat is typically generated underneath the electronic device, so the cooling solution is less efficient. Thirdly, thermal interface materials (TIMs) like thermal paste or pads are necessary to connect such cooling solutions to electronic devices and have their own inherent inefficiencies.
Therefore, the team created a conformal coating made from copper for their electronic devices, covering every exposed surface to ensure every heat-producing region can be cooled. This effectively integrates the device and its heat spreader into one piece, eliminating the need for additional heat sinks or TIMs.
"In our study, we compared our coatings to standard heat sinking methods. What we showed is that you can get very similar thermal performance, or even better performance, with the coatings compared to the heat sinks. And this translates to much higher power per unit volume. We were able to demonstrate a 740% increase in the power per unit volume," said Tarek Gebrael, the lead author and a UIUC Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering.
"Let's say you have multiple printed circuit boards. You can stack many more printed circuit boards in the same volume when you are using our coating, compared to if you are using conventional liquid- or air-cooled heat sinks," Gebrael continued.
You can read more from the study here.
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