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Closeup of Solid State Fan  (Source: Dan Schlitz and Vishal Singhal, Thorrn Micro Technologies)

Chart Showing solid Stat Fan vs. Traditional Fans  (Source: Thorrn Micro Technologies)
Researcher says the solid-state fan is the biggest improvement in cooling since the heat pipe

Many computer enthusiasts understand that how fast a processor runs is in part dependent on how well the chip can be cooled. This is why record-setting benchmark runs are typically made with processors cooled by exotic means.

Cooling is just as important for mobile systems like notebook computers and other portable electronics. The size of the fan required for the system can affect how small devices can be built. A pair of engineers from Thorrn Micro Technologies Inc, Dan Schlitz and Vishal Singhal, have developed a new solid-state fan that works similarly to household air purifiers.

The resulting fan is the most powerful and energy efficient fan of its size and moves more air than fans that are 35 times its size. The RSD5 solid-state fan is described by Singhal as, “One of the most significant advancements in electronics cooling since heat pipes. It could change the cooling paradigm for mobile electronics.”

The device operates thanks to a phenomenon called corona wind. This corona wind is created by placing a series of live wires within uncharged conducting plates contoured into half cylinders, partially enveloping the wires. The live wires generate micro-scale plasma that conducts electricity.

The corona wind is created within the intense electrical field that results from the configuration of the wires and the conducting plates. The researchers say they were able to control the micro-scale discharge to produce maximum airflow without risk of arcing or sparks which could prove catastrophic to electronic devices [Video].

Schlitz says, “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.”

MSI has also been working on more efficient ways to cool electronic components as well. DailyTech reported in February that MSI had announced a new ECOlution chipset cooler that operates on the Stirling Engine Theory.

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By ChronoReverse on 3/19/2008 4:40:48 PM , Rating: -1
The fan isn't even a bottleneck in cooling right now. Why would we need a noisy high-flow one even if it were smaller?

RE: Useless
By kextyn on 3/19/2008 4:56:51 PM , Rating: 2
How do you figure this "fan" is noisy? It's solid state, no moving parts. How can it be noisier than a normal fan?

RE: Useless
By jlips6 on 3/19/2008 5:02:55 PM , Rating: 2
the airflow alone makes sound. If it moves as much air as it says it does, that could make it pretty noisy.

RE: Useless
By vgermax on 3/19/2008 5:16:23 PM , Rating: 3
Saying the fan isn't the bottleneck is a bit too much of a blanket statement. Watching the video the target is for portable/handheld devices. In those instances the physical size of a fan is constraint. If comparable cooling to a 80x80 fan (for instance) can be provided with a device the size of a typical chip package, that could potentially open up a lot of options for designers.

RE: Useless
By mooncancook on 3/19/2008 5:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
I supposed one can control the air flow?

RE: Useless
By Cogman on 3/19/2008 5:43:27 PM , Rating: 1
Why did he get rated down? The comment is valid, airflow makes noise and if you have a lot of air flow over a tiny surface then you will have a fair amount of noise. That being said, this fan should be VERY easy to control, the only noise we should hear from it is during really intense operation.

RE: Useless
By masher2 on 3/19/2008 6:13:28 PM , Rating: 5
Airflow in itself doesn't make noise; turbulent airflow does. The blades of a normal fan create many turbulent vortexes, causing noise.

In theory, this solid-state fan could be considerably quieter than a conventional one. In practice, though, I have no idea of its actual noise level.

RE: Useless
By vgermax on 3/19/2008 6:44:46 PM , Rating: 3
Turbulent flow is a critical requirement for efficient heat transfer. It is, in part, why a high flowrate is desirable. Turbulent flow is achieved sooner, all things being equal, with a higher flowrate. At this point, I'd assume the reduction in noise of this design would come from better directionality of the flow, elimination of the mechanical components but not from the reduction of turbulence which would be counter to effecting better heat transfer.

RE: Useless
By ChronoReverse on 3/19/2008 6:51:33 PM , Rating: 3
Hmm, that's something I didn't think about. Laminar air flow over cooling fins probably wouldn't carry off as much heat would it?

RE: Useless
By masher2 on 3/19/2008 7:39:58 PM , Rating: 2
> "Turbulent flow is a critical requirement for efficient heat transfer."

Certainly, but you want that turbulence over what's being cooled, not what's driving the airflow. Turbulence in a fan simply creates noise and reduces overall flow rate.

RE: Useless
By daInvincibleGama on 3/19/2008 9:17:48 PM , Rating: 2
That is true, but when the cooling surface is on/close to the solid-state "fan", turbulence created by said "fan" would almost directly lead to better cooling. The air must be turbulent before striking the target cooled surface to achieve the maximum collisions possible.

RE: Useless
By masher2 on 3/20/2008 5:22:06 AM , Rating: 2
> "but when the cooling surface is on/close to the solid-state "fan", turbulence created by said "fan" would almost directly lead to better cooling"

A good point, but I'm sure they can create turbulent flow if it's desired, simply by the geometry of the device itself.

RE: Useless
By vgermax on 3/20/2008 12:32:34 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Useless
By Samus on 3/20/2008 3:34:05 AM , Rating: 3
Useless? Why do you assume the only practical application is use in a PC environment?

Fan's still cool thousands of things you use everyday, from air conditioner condensors to HVAC systems in your home to the car you drive daily. And if you don't drive and take the bus or train, those need fans too.

These would make great radiator fans for automotive use where noise isn't an issue, but reliability, space, electricity and efficiency are.

RE: Useless
By ChronoReverse on 3/20/2008 11:11:53 AM , Rating: 2
Ionic wind has been around for a long time. It's not like it's a new concept.

Even so, you have get around the new issues they bring up such as the ozone it produces, dust arcing and so on.

RE: Useless
By ineedaname on 3/19/2008 5:42:29 PM , Rating: 4
I work at a computer repair center and actually most of the hardware problems that come in are all heat related. So a better way to cool laptops is VERY essential. You can say its not a bottleneck but it definitely will prolong the lifespan of your laptop.

RE: Useless
By ChronoReverse on 3/19/2008 6:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
I don't dispute the need for cooling and especially cooling in confined spaces.

However, overheating laptops tend to be caused by poorly designed cooling setups, clogged (with dust) vents or some sort of user silliness (like blocking the exhaust). This smaller fan isn't going to help with any of that.

In my laptop, even when the fan is quiet, I can easily detect a jet of warm to hot air coming out. Can we really do with a current equivalent to a fan 35 times the size (I'll assume area)?

In short, the only real issue it solves is fan blade noise. Which is fine and all but hardly a revolution. It also doesn't help that similar concepts have popped up every once in a while without any results. Unless I'm totally misunderstanding this, it's same old "ionic wind" type of tech. Mmmm, I love ozone.

RE: Useless
By Oregonian2 on 3/19/2008 7:02:37 PM , Rating: 2
In short, the only real issue it solves is fan blade noise.

The article doesn't say anything about the fan being quiet. Could be twice as noisy -- just isn't coming from a blade. Moving/accelerating air has the potential to make noise (or at least sound, "noise" is just an interpretation of sound).

RE: Useless
By ChronoReverse on 3/19/2008 7:05:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'm building from the another post' claim that it'll be quieter (my original post stated it'd be loud).

If this thing is quieter, then it's worse than useless; it'll spit out ozone and ions as well.

RE: Useless
By ChronoReverse on 3/19/2008 9:35:21 PM , Rating: 1
Huh, I'm surprised this statement is simply modded down despite not being particularly incorrect (if at all).

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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