Monday, June 11, 2012

#MATERIALS: "Microfluidics to Cool 3-D Chip Stacks"

A new initiative to use liquid cooling techniques by virtue of microfluidic channels that run through 3-D chip stacks to extract heat--much like a car's radiator--is being pursued by a new initiative called "IceCool" by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). The new program, run by DARPA program manager Avram Bar-Cohen, who also runs the Thermal Management Technologies (TMT) program, begins today and will run for at least three years: R. Colin Johnson

Here is what DARPA says about its IceCool program: The continued miniaturization and the increased density of components in today’s electronics have pushed heat generation and power dissipation to unprecedented levels. Current thermal management solutions, usually involving remote cooling, are unable to limit the temperature rise of today’s complex electronic components. Such remote cooling solutions, where heat must be conducted away from components before rejection to the air, add considerable weight and volume to electronic systems. The result is complex military systems that continue to grow in size and weight due to the inefficiencies of existing thermal management hardware.

Recent advances of the DARPA Thermal Management Technologies (TMT) program enable a paradigm shift—better thermal management. DARPA’s Intrachip/Interchip Enhanced Cooling (ICECool) program seeks to crack the thermal management barrier and overcome the limitations of remote cooling. ICECool will explore ‘embedded’ thermal management by bringing microfluidic cooling inside the substrate, chip or package by including thermal management in the earliest stages of electronics design.

Avram Bar-Cohen, DARPA program manager says the technique is similar to a radiator on a car that runs water through the engine block.

The ICECool Fundamentals solicitation released today seeks proposals to research and demonstrate the microfabrication and evaporative cooling techniques needed to implement embedded cooling. Proposals are sought for intrachip/interchip solutions that bring microchannels, micropores, etc. into the design and fabrication of chips. Interchip solutions for chip stacks are also sought.
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