Computerworld (01/29/09) Lai, Eric
As chips become increasingly dense, the extreme heat they generate has pushed researchers to search for ways to mitigate it. Intel, RTI International, and Arizona State University researchers have developed a micro-refrigerator that can be installed on a chip to remove heat from hot spots. The micro-refrigerator, which would allow nanoscale systems to be smaller, uses less electricity than traditional heat sinks, fans, and liquid cooling systems, says RTI senior researcher Rama Venkatasubramanian. The micro-refrigerator is a super-thin film made from thermoelectric molecules such as Bismuth telluride and Antimony telluride, which convert heat into electricity. Venkatasubramanian describes the technology as using electrons to pump heat away. The researchers say they have been able to reduce heat on a simulated central processing unit by 15 degrees Celsius, but Venkatasubramanian is optimistic that using more thermally conductive materials on the chip would improve the heat reduction by as much as 40 degrees Celsius. The micro-refrigerator also would be very efficient because it can target hot spots on the chip and uses only between 2 to 3 watts when active.
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