Rensselaer Research ReviewWinter 2008
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Scanning electron microscope image of copper nanorods
A scanning electron microscope shows copper nanorods deposited on a copper substrate. Air trapped in the forest of nanorods helps to dramatically boost the creation of bubbles and the efficiency of boiling, which in turn could lead to new ways of cooling computer chips as well as cost savings for any number of industrial boiling application.

Photo Credit: Rensselaer/Koratkar

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Cooling Computer Chips

The team’s discovery could also revolutionize the process of cooling computer chips. As the physical size of chips has shrunk significantly over the past two decades, it has become increasingly critical to develop ways to cool hot spots and transfer lingering heat away from the chip. This challenge has grown more prevalent in recent years, and threatens to bottleneck the semiconductor industry’s ability to develop smaller and more powerful chips. 

Boiling is a potential heat transfer technique that can be used to cool chips, Koratkar said, so depositing copper nanorods onto the copper interconnects of chips could lead to new innovations in heat transfer and dissipation for semiconductors. 

“Since computer interconnects are already made of copper, it should be easy and inexpensive to treat those components with a layer of copper nanorods,” Koratkar said, noting that his group plans to further pursue this possibility. 

The research results of Koratkar’s study are presented in the paper “Nanostructure copper interfaces for enhanced boiling,” which was published online this week and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Small

The study may be accessed online at: www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120081321/abstract

Along with Koratkar, co-authors of the paper include Rensselaer MANE Associate Professor Yoav Peles; Rensselaer mechanical engineering graduate student Zuankai Wang; Rensselaer Center for Integrated Electronics Research Associate Pei-I Wang; University of Colorado at Boulder Chancellor and former Rensselaer Provost G.P. “Bud” Peterson; and UC-Boulder Assistant Research Professor Chen Li. 

 

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