Researchers at Birmingham University in New York recently announced a new technique in the manufacturing of microprocessors that will dramatically improve the cooling of computers, resulting in greater energy efficiency, as well as reduced costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Computer microprocessors are typically kept cool by a device known as a heat sink, which is composed of several metallic fins that are attached with a thermal paste. Some devices also include a small fan. The heat sink, which is made of copper or aluminum, helps keep the computer cool by dissipating the heat away from the processor.
The researchers found the traditional method is inefficient because the thermal paste isn't completely seamless. To solve this problem, they developed a technique that uses microchannel spirals or mazes that allow coolant to travel within tiny channels that are affixed directly onto the processor itself. To create the mazes, the scientists used a laser to selectively melt and bond an alloy directly onto the processor's silicon.
They used a tin-silver-titanium alloy that rapidly forms a thin bonding layer about 1,000 times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. The titanium-silicide bond acts as a glue between the silicon chip and the metal alloy.
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