Ion Pumps for Cooler Chips


Scientists at the University of Washington have succeeded in developing a microscopic cooling device that’s small enough to be built into a chip. It’s called an ion-pump and it uses an electrical charge to create a jet of cooling air that’s directed onto the surface of the chip. The idea isn’t new but this is the first time an ion pump has been made small enough to be used in this kind of application. The pump has only two components, and no moving parts, so there’s nothing to wear out, no noise and very little power consumption. The actual pump measures just a few microns across and in trials the prototypes have been shown to produce a significant cooling effect. Research grants from semiconductor manufacturers have been awarded to the team and work is now underway to refine the technology.

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