back to article Boffins chill chip with ion wind

Scientists at Indiana's Purdue University have worked out to significantly increase the efficiency of kit designed to keep toasty microprocessors cool by zapping the air above the chip with a thousand Volts. Coolers work by pulling air across a chip's upper surface to draws heat away from it. Unfortunately, interactions …


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  1. Steve Roper

    Crucial voltage

    Yes, that crucial voltage needs to come down. I'm not sure I'd want 1000 volts floating around anywhere near my very expensive CPU!

  2. Aubry Thonon

    Sounded familiar...

    This concept of ionising the air sounded familar, so I dug around.,boffins-build-tiny-onchip-cooling-system.aspx


    Yep... about a year ago, the University of Washington announced the same thing. And according to them, they didn't even need a fan, which is something these new boffins required for their test.

  3. Eugene Goodrich

    Increased efficiency or just efficacy?

    The efficiency of the cooling system could be described as the amount of heat it can clear out per unit of energy it takes to do so. I heard someone run some math (which looked as reasonable as not) suggesting the ion wind costs a few times as much power as the fan it makes more effective.

    So overall they might not have changed power efficiency, just efficiency of space, weight, complexity (assuming, of course, that ion wind hoosits are less complex than other high-performance alternatives), and perhaps noise.

    I say we turn instead to doping and etching the chips onto diamond and let 'em run smoking hot. ;)

  4. Kevin Thomas

    It's not the voltage that'll kill you...

    It's the long as there is a low current across the conductors, there's not an issue :)

  5. jolly

    Ozone removal cost & effort?

    They forget to mention the cost (i.e., power and effort) of removing the ozone generated as a byproduct of the ionization process. Unless of course the designers don't care about ozone in the locality of a computer using their newfangled technology.

    Perhaps they could design some sort of liquid cooling system. It would be simpler, cheaper, already available off the shelf, doh!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Stop wasting time and effort!! Pay attention to droping the voltage/current in microprocessors less energy in, means less energy out.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: It's not the voltage that'll kill you...

    I think he's worried about effect similar to static electricity, which I believe is high voltage low current but not good for PC internals.

  8. Edwin

    re: It's not the voltage...

    the think is that it doesn't take a lot of current to kill my processor either - think static electricity, which can exceed 10kV at some ridiculously low amperage...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flying high now

    The next step is to put millions of these little miniature fans onto a backpack, or a special suit, so that people can fly up into the air, propelled by gusts of ionised wind.

  10. Matt Milford

    Is an ionic wind anything like static electricity?

    Would it draw the dirt and dust off the heatsink for my CPU as well? No dust on your heatsink is bound to be worth something in terms of efficiency.

  11. M. Burns

    Dust Magnet

    Big problem I see with these high voltage cooling schemes is that they attract dust via electrostatic attraction, just as an Ionic Breeze or the screen of a CRT television. We all know how dust free the interiors of our PC's are after even just a few months use...

  12. Tim Schomer


    Are these figures right? surely it should be 95 Farenheight (being the US) I certainly wouldn't want to have any CPU of mine getting up to 140 Centigrade!

  13. Ross Fleming

    How hot??

    They cooled a cpu to 140C using conventional cooling techniques? What sort of chip were they trying to cool??

  14. Tony

    I'm off to the patent office

    Anti-gravity gecko feet and ionized wind for directional control.

    The future has arrived.

  15. Remy Redert


    They must have been testing a new Intel chip, looks like Intel went the way of the super-heated chip again :D

  16. Lathem Gibson

    Here's a DIY version

    This dude has a neat site in general:

  17. salvarsan

    voltage and power law

    This test was a prototype using 1000 volts across a 1cm gap.

    If the requisite voltage follows an inverse square law, the hoped-for 1 micron gap would need only 10 volts.

    My thanks to The Register for actually reading the research paper and providing the experimental conditions that were absent from the Purdue press release.

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