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Scientists at Purdue University unveil ionic drive that cools chips via 'charged' winds

Ionic cooling on the horizon

US Scientists have developed a prototype device designed to cool computer chips using ionic winds, according to the Journal of Applied Physics.

The device is designed to tackle the heat generated from today’s small, yet powerful machines. It works via an "ionic wind", which is produced by voltage application to the ionic engine. It then generates positively charged particles (ions) that are dragged towards a negatively charged wire (a cathode), forcing constant air movement.

Timothy Fisher, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University and an author on the paper, said: "In computers and electronics, power equals heat, so we need to find ways to manage the heat generated in more powerful laptops and handheld computers."

Current fan cooling technologies can experience airflow problems, where molecules close to the chip can be caught up, rendering the cooling process useless. The prototype, which works by moving charged ions from end to end, has so far only been tested on a mock chip.

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