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Mechanical Engineers to Study Novel Cooling Method for Microelectronics

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

S.M. You and Hyejin MoonA team of UT Arlington mechanical engineersdeveloping a novel and efficient cooling method for high power microelectronics has been awarded $380K in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

S. M. You, a professor and Hyejin Moon, an assistant professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, plan to study thin-film evaporative cooling of water with the aid of a nanoporous surfacecoating and digital microfluidics.

Thin-film evaporation is known to be the most efficient way of heat removal from a surface, and the thinner the cooling liquid film, the higher the efficiency. However, forming a steady and stable liquid thin-film of a few micron or submicron thickness over a heated surface is not trivial. Moreover, forming it within small electronics packaging with 3-D consideration is very challenging. Therefore, mechanical engineering research experts in micro-scale heat transfer (You) and microscale fluids delivery (Moon) teamed up and proposed a systematic approach to tackle these challenges.

Through this project, the UTA team will investigate the feasibility of an electrowetting on dielectric (EWOD) digital microfluidic (DMF) technique todeliver the coolant actively and controllably to the hot-spot. Simultaneously, by testing in conditions which emulate electronics heating and environment, and utilizing a superhydrophilic surface coating, the team will also investigate cooling performance of thin-film evaporation of water on a heated silicon substrate.

The team expects that the proposed study will bring a transformation to thermal management applications through versatile and embedded cooling systems. The successful system could be inserted within a chip or directly on top of the junction with proper modification of system fabrication. Such a system would enable operation of ultra-high power electronic devices such as gallium-nitride power amplifiers, and would directly cool otherwise inaccessible hot-spots which are generated between chips in 3-D electronics packaging.