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MicroSpreader cools electronic devices

Posted: 01 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MicroSpreader? Celsia Technologies? iCurie Labs? NanoSpreaders? microfluidic technology?

A new startup has emerged with microfluidic technology that supposedly cools a wide range of systems, including notebook computers, telecom gear and LEDs used for illumination. Celsia Technologies announced its MicroSpreader products, which it claims drain 10 to 20 times more heat out of a design than competing approaches.

"These are used where aluminum and copper no longer remove enough heat for the design," said George Meyer, chief marketing officer and general manager of the Americas and Europe for Celsia. "As power density goes up and space becomes more limited, heat transport can be a limiting factor on design. The thermal-management market has been stagnant for five to 10 years, yet cooling requirements are rising more rapidly than ever."

Although the Celsia products cost as much as $10 per unit, Meyer claims the figure is competitive with the price of the multiple heat pipes used to cool some electronic components. MicroSpreaders have a thermal conductivity of more than 5,000W/m-K, according to the company. The additional cooling means engineers can build systems smaller or run more power through them, Meyer said.

The MicroSpreader uses a sandwich of two sponge-like microfluidic water channels separated by a vapor channel and encased in copper shielding. When the side closest to the hot component warms up, water vapor pours into the vapor channel, which expands and creates condensation on the top water channel, starting an internal cooling cycle.

The company would not reveal details of the microfluidic technology inside the product while patents are pending. Meyer did say, however, that future products will use aluminum and titanium cases.

Two water channels encased in copper surround a vapor zone.

The spreaders come in various customizable sizes and shapes. Widths typically range from 20mm to 48mm, and lengths can run from 100mm to 600mm.

Founded as iCurie Labs in Seoul, South Korea, the company underwent an "extreme makeover" this year to emerge with its first products as Celsia in Miami. Follow-on products called NanoSpreaders, targeted at home, mobile and automotive markets, are a year or two away from release.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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