Heat sinks are the standard when it comes to keeping components on your computer and practically any other electronic device cool, but researchers may have found a way to cool your components without using these slotted metal blocks. a Report for science daily (via Tom’s devices) highlights a new, more elegant approach to cooling as the entire unit is coated with polycarbonate and copper.
If you are not used to using heat sinks, they are usually made of copper or aluminum, two metals that act as heat conductors. They often come with several metal fins that draw heat away from the main components of your device to prevent overheating. The heat is then pushed out of the system by a nearby fan.
A group of researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley published a study in nature electronics It replaces the traditional “copper-matched coating” heatsinks and the “multi-layer dielectric” scattered throughout the device.
The researchers say this cooling method gives “very similar or even better performance” compared to heat sinks. Also, the researchers say, eliminating the need for a bulky piece of metal could save significant space in electronic devices, increasing the device’s power per unit volume by up to 740 percent. “You can stack more printed circuit boards of the same size when using our coating, compared to conventional liquid or air-cooled heat sinks,” the study explains.
Researchers are still evaluating the effectiveness of this coating and plan to test it on power units and graphics cards. It’s too early to say if this type of technology will be something that computer part makers pre-pack components for or whether you have to do it yourself.
If the coating were a workable alternative to heat sinks, it could dramatically change the appearance of the electronics in ways I can’t even fathom. Maybe the paint could completely kill the heat sink. While I would somewhat miss the manufacturers of funky shields hiding heat sinks on motherboards, their absence could allow more creative freedom in the look and functionality of a range of components.
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