You might think that cooling your computer using a water-based solution is the best way to go, but the future could bring something very different to the table. Take for instance, many small wind engines that creates a “breeze” of sorts that is comprised of charged up particles (ions for short) that keeps computer chips cool. According to scientists, they believe that these tiny wind engines are more than able to take computing power to the next level. After all, as microprocessors grow even more powerful with each generation, the higher number of transistors packed inside tend to generate more and more heat which is detrimental to performance in the long run.
Conventional cooling techniques fail in this aspect due to the problems found in air flow. Whenever spinning blades send air over a chip, the nearest molecules to the chip tend to get stuck there, rendering the cooling effect useless. This new experimental wind engine takes a different route however by shifting charged particles from one end of the device to the other. A small voltage is applied to the ionic engine, whereby positively charged ions are produced. These ions will then be attracted towards a negatively charged wire in order to force constant air movement, thereby doing away with the need for water cooled solutions.
The research team claimed that this device managed to increase the cooling rate compared to that of a conventional fan, and Professor Suresh Garimella gave more concrete numbers to back up that statement. He said that “Other experimental cooling-enhancement approaches might give you a 40% or a 50% improvement (1.4 to 1.5 times the cooling rate of a conventional fan). A 250% improvement (3.5 times the cooling rate of a conventional fan) is quite unusual.” It now remains to be seen whether the research team will be able to shrink their prototype to make it a hundred times smaller than its current size. As it is, that would be a huge challenge by itself since the final product would have to measure just a few millimeters across. It is hoped that this ionic cooling device will be able to roll off production lines within the next three years.