Ionic Wind Dramatically Improves CPU Cooling

Researchers at Purdue University, in work funded by Intel, may have come upon a novel new way of dealing with heat buildup on the CPU. The scientists have developed a new technology based on "ionic wind engines" which could increase chip cooling rates as much as 250%; the cooling device is comprised of one positively charged wire, the anode, placed 10mm above several negatively charged electrodes, the cathodes. When an electric charge is passed through the cathodes, electrons migrate upwards towards the anode, colliding with air molecules along the way and forming positively charged ions which migrate back towards the cathodes. 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. If the system can be succesfully minimized, the technology could show up in computers in as early as three years.

"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."

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