As electronics get smaller and more powerful, they are generating more heat. One challenge for manufacturers is finding a way to cool down their creations without affecting performance.
Current methods to prevent overheating include fans, aluminum heat sinks, and liquid-cooled cold plates. A heat sink has a thermal conductor to disperse the heat. As devices get smaller and hotter, their heat sinks are getting larger.
Mechanical engineer Bernie Malouin, the founder of the startup Jetcool Technologies, says making bigger heat spreaders is a backward approach. His team came up with a different way: a technology they call microconvective cooling, which uses small jets of fluid. Jetcool’s heat sink can be embedded within the substrate, be part of the baseplate, or be a modular add-on.
Jetcool, based in Littleton, Mass., was named Next Top Startup at a competition held during the IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS) in June. The company also won the event’s Audience Choice Award.
“Why develop smaller and smaller devices just to saddle them with larger and larger heat sinks?” Malouin says. “It just didn’t make sense to me. Jetcool uses small heat sinks that are essentially the same size as the device itself. On top of that, our approach provides 10 times better cooling than other methods such as microchannels, cold plates, or air cooling.”
Instead of spreading the heat, Jetcool’s small jets of high-velocity fluid are aimed directly at the surface to remove the heat right where it’s generated. The jets are built into the silicon substrate, integrating cooling into the processor chip. Its solution integrates seamlessly with almost all of today’s liquid-cooling infrastructure, requiring only industry-standard pressures and flow rates.
What’s more, Malouin says, Jetcool heat sinks are lightweight, don’t use thermal epoxies or pastes, and eliminate the need for metal heat sinks. The miniature cooling modules can be added during chip fabrication or to an existing component at the packaging stage, he says.
Jetcool’s on-chip microconvective cooling could be used in the motor drives of electric vehicle power systems, the laser diodes that are part of defense systems, and the performance processors powering data centers.
Several prototypes are being piloted, and Malouin said he expects to start selling products next year.
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