Washington, March 19 : Indian origin scientist and founder of Thorrn Micro Technologies Vishal Singhal and his fellow Dan Schlitz have developed a microchip-sized "fan" that has no moving parts, yet it produces enough wind to cool a laptop.
The scientist duo say that the RSD5 solid-state fan, developed with support from NSF's Small Business Innovation Research program, is the most powerful and energy efficient fan of its size.
According to them, their fan produces three times the flow rate of a typical small mechanical fan and is one-fourth the size.
The new device is a result of six years of research that Singhal and Schlitz began while they were NSF-supported graduate students at Purdue University.
"The RSD5 is one of the most significant advancements in electronics cooling since heat pipes. It could change the cooling paradigm for mobile electronics," said Singhal.
The researchers have revealed that the RSD5 incorporates a series of live wires that generate a micro-scale plasma, an ion-rich gas that has free electrons that conduct electricity.
The wires lie within un-charged conducting plates that are contoured into half-cylindrical shape to partially envelop the wires, they say.
Within the intense electric field that results, ions push neutral air molecules from the wire to the plate, generating a wind.
The researchers say that the scientific term for this phenomenon is 'corona wind'.
"The technology is a breakthrough in the design and development of semiconductors as it brings an elegant and cost effective solution to the heating problems that have plagued the industry," said Juan Figueroa, the NSF SBIR program officer who oversaw the research.
The researchers say that their technology is capable of producing a good amount of airflow without the risk of sparks or electrical arcing.
They say that their device yields a breeze as swift as 2.4 meters per second as compared to airflows of 0.7 to 1.7 meters per second from larger, mechanical fans.
Schlitz and Singhal say that the contoured platform is a part of the device heat sink, a trick that enables them to eliminate some of the device's bulk and increase the effectiveness of the airflow as well as to improve the effectiveness of the airflow.
"The technology has the power to cool a 25-watt chip with a device smaller than 1 cubic-cm and can someday be integrated into silicon to make self-cooling chips," said Schlitz.
This device is also more dust-tolerant than the living-room-scale fans.