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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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What about dust buildup?
By gochichi on 3/19/2008 5:57:34 PM , Rating: 3
Very cool indeed, but what about dust buildup on those tiny holes?

You could design the device so that it was easy to get to this fan and give it a cleaning though.

Very interesting, I wonder if it only works for tiny fans like the one in the picture or if it could work a full sized fan.

RE: What about dust buildup?
By P4blo on 3/20/2008 7:49:42 AM , Rating: 4
I'm thinking that the way these solid state fans work would actually reduce or maybe even remove the dust buildup. I'm not a scientist but here's why I think this.

The primary reason that dust manages to build up on conventional fans and heatsinks in computers is because there is a very thin layer of air right on the sirface of said heatsink or (to a lesser extent) fan, that is barely moving or stationary. It takes fairly stationary air to allow dust to settle and stay still. Sure the air just above this sirface may be blowing at some speed but should the dust cross into this layer of slow moving air it will still settle, regardless.

Now if you take this solid state technology, it's whole reason for being and it's cooling mission in life is to ensure that there is no small layer of stationary air on the coolers sirface. This is how it achieves such efficient results over standard cooling.

Surely if the sirface of the cooler is constantly in such fast moving air, dust cant settle?

I think it will actually prove simpler to keep these things dust free. Most of the dust will just pass through instead of settling.

RE: What about dust buildup?
By P4blo on 3/20/2008 7:56:12 AM , Rating: 2
Doh, that should read 'surface' of course.

RE: What about dust buildup?
By ChronoReverse on 3/20/2008 11:13:04 AM , Rating: 3
I dunno, from my experience dust tends to be sticky and can get on even moving parts in large quantities.

RE: What about dust buildup?
By kgwagner on 3/21/2008 8:27:56 AM , Rating: 1
I think dust buildup is going to be a serious problem. After all, this is the exact tech they use to make the dust filters everybody's talking about. The particles get charged moving past one electrode, and stick to the opposite part. So, while a desktop will be a pain in the shorts to clean since it'll have to be done so often, what about laptops that take a jeweler's tool set along with the dexterity of a surgeon and the patience of a saint to disassemble, rework, and reassemble? It would probably only be a matter of days before such a cooler would not be a cooler any longer.

RE: What about dust buildup?
By alp689 on 3/24/2008 10:28:19 AM , Rating: 2
If it's anything like the ionic breeze air purifier I had, dust buildup will indeed be a massive problem.

I seem to recall that purifier did nothing more than electrically charge dust so it stuck to my bedroom walls, I can't imagine this thing would be much different

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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