Scientists have developed a technology based on 'ionic wind engines' that could dramatically improve computer chip cooling.
"Other experimental cooling-enhancement approaches might give you a 40 per cent or 50 per cent improvement," said Suresh Garimella, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue. "A 250 per cent improvement is quite unusual. "
When used in combination with a conventional fan, the experimental device enhanced the fan's effectiveness by increasing airflow to the surface of a mock computer chip.
The new technology could help engineers design thinner laptop computers that run cooler than today's machines, the researchers believe.
The new cooling technology could be introduced into computers within three years if researchers are able to miniaturise it and make the system rugged enough, Garimella said.
As the technology is further developed, such cooling devices might be integrated into portable consumer electronics products, including mobile phones.
The experimental cooling device works by generating electrically charged atoms using electrodes placed near one another.
The device contained a positively charged wire, or anode, and negatively charged electrodes, called cathodes.
The anode was positioned about 10mm above the cathodes. When voltage was passed through the device, the negatively charged electrodes discharged electrons toward the positively charged anode.
The electrons collided with air molecules, producing positively charged ions, which were then attracted back toward the negatively charged electrodes, creating an 'ionic wind'.
This 'breeze' was found to increase the airflow on the surface of the experimental chip and so dramatically improve cooling.
Scientists create a virtual reality simulation of a black hole sitting at the centre of the Milky Way
Simulations like this can help people understand complicated systems in the universe in a better way
The most luminous galaxy ever discovered is cannibalising at least three of its smaller neighbours, study finds
The galaxy radiates at 350 trillion times the luminosity of the Sun
Researchers modify genetic code of cancer-killing virus so it can target cells that protect cancer from immune system
Changing the genetic coding causes the infected cancer cells to produce a protein that kills the fibroblast cells that protect cancer
The findings can help improve the current understanding of brain development disorders, such as epilepsy or autism