740% more current: big revolution in cooling electronics

The smaller it is, the hotter it gets: high temperatures are one of the intimate enemies of modern electronics and are one of the most limiting factors for an increase in the power of our devices and processors, or their more great miniaturization, or both at the same time.

The field of cooling these small overpowered chips, however, may have just taken a giant leap. Publishing its results in Nature Electronicsa team of scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California at Berkeley think they have found a solution to pass 740% more current in the same unit – and this, of course , without turning it into a toaster.

As indicated the press release accompanying the publication of the article and as Interesting Engineering resumes, who relayed these findingsprogress in the field of cooling electronics comes up against three main problems.

The first is the price of the materials of the most advanced solutions in research and the sector. “It can be expensive and difficult to produce in quantity”explains the main author of the Nature article, Tarek Gebrael, referring in particular to to solutions based on the expensive diamond.

Additionally, Tarek Gebrael notes that today’s heatsinks are typically placed above the circuit or processor they are responsible for cooling. Gold, “in many cases, the majority of the heat is generated under the electronic device”: we can therefore logically do much better.

Finally –do-it-yourselfers are well aware of the problem–, these radiators and heatsinks cannot be placed directly on the electronic gadget: thermal paste must be used to make the connection between the two and, despite the progress made, it does not make it possible to achieve the most optimal performance.

Things are getting hot

Their solution? As New Atlas explainssupported by diagrams, it is essentially based on thin layers of paryleneas well as good old copper, an inexpensive material whose handling is already well mastered by the industry.

Contrary to what is done traditionally, the entire circuit to be cooled (top, bottom, sides) is covered with this little coat, which does not require any paste or intermediary.

The circuit and its cooling system are therefore one, allowing the optimal operation of an assembly whose size is greatly reduced.

And if the team swears that the results are already impressive with a single circuit, it especially notes the possibility of multiplying the efficiency of its system by stacking them.

“You can stack many more PCBs in the same volume when using our coating, compared to what is possible with traditional air or water cooling. […] We were thus able to achieve a 740% increase in power per unit.”

7.4 times more power in the same circuit is a real giant leap. It remains to be seen how this could translate into practice, on production lines and in the consumer or specialized electronics that will shape our future.

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740% more current: big revolution in cooling electronics


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