As chips and electronic systems continue to cross thresholds of higher and higher performance, they need to manage an inevitable byproduct: heat. As more traditional cooling methods prove less effective, chip designers and manufacturers are looking for efficient, cost-effective solutions to their cooling problems. Imec, an international collaborative research hub, recently introduced an innovative new cooling technique that could provide an answer.
Current cooling solutions rely on heat exchangers and spreaders attached to the backs of chips to distribute the heat evenly along the surface of the chip. This is an important consideration — any temperature differential degrades performance and long-term viability, making direct cooling of the chip a less-than-ideal solution.
Liquid coolants must be distributed evenly across and perpendicular to the chip’s surface to maintain an equal temperature and to cut down cooling time — a process commonly performed by impingement coolers. These impingement-based cooling systems have typically been silicon-based, making them cost-inefficient to produce, said Imec.
Imec’s solution to this persistent problem is a polymer-based impingement chip cooler produced by a high-resolution stereolithography 3D printer that features nozzle sizes of only 300 µm. The nozzle pattern design can be customized to suit the specifications of a chip design. By using a 3D printer, the entire structure can be printed as a single part, significantly lessening both production time and costs, said Imec.
Image source: Imec.
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