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Ionic Cooling at Work  (Source: MIT Review)
Ionic cooling technology expected to be commercialized next year

Before Sharper Image went defunct, the company pushed its Ionic Breeze air purifier relentlessly through commercials. The big selling point of the product was that it used charged particles to move air without the need for a fan or other moving parts.

MIT Review reports that some researchers are using the same idea for cooling laptops and other electronic devices. Researchers from the University of Washington and a company called Tessera that has licensed the ionic-cooling technology from the university are working on adapting the power of ionic cooling to use in notebook computers.

According to the researchers, the ionic-cooling methods can extract about 30% more heat from a laptop than a traditional fan. In addition to removing more heat form hot internal components like the CPU, lab tests have also reportedly shown that the ionic-cooling method consumes about half the power a fan needs. Any power savings realized in a notebook computer directly increases the run time of the machine.

The ionic-cooler is based on research originally completed by Alexander Mamishev from Washington University. The tech was licensed by Tessera last year and researchers at the university and Tessera have been working to convert the technology into a smaller form that can be used inside electronics devices like notebooks, game consoles, projectors, and servers.

Tessera director of research and development Ken Horner said, "The early work focused on principles. We're now focused on optimizing it and fitting it into small form factors."

MIT Review reports that the ionic cooler developed by Tessera would sit near a vent inside a laptop. Heat pipes would be used to draw heat away from the heat generating components inside a computer and pull the heat towards the ionic-cooling system.

The ionic-cooler itself consists of a pair of electrodes, one of which is an emitter and the other a collector electrode. When voltage is applied between the two electrodes, ions flow from the emitter to the collector pushing neutral air molecules across a hot spot.

One of the biggest challenges for the technology was to create a very small voltage converter that could generate the needed 3,000 volts to power the ionic system. The 3,000 volts of power had to be generated from the notebook's 12v DC power supply.

Engineers were able to devise a suitable power supply that measures only 3 centimeters square from the power supply for a cold cathode fluorescent lamp. A problem still facing the researchers is one of dust. The technology has to be made as impervious to dust as current fans are. The ionic cooling device also has to be made more rugged.

The lifespan of the electrodes is currently not up to the 30,000 hours of life expected from a notebook computer. The researchers are reportedly working with new electrode materials now that are expected to solve the longevity issues with early electrodes. The researchers declined to give specifics on the materials being used due to patents that are pending on the technology.

Exactly how much cost an ionic-cooling system would add to a notebook is unknown at this point. Tessera's Craig Mitchell says that the technology will be ready for commercialization next year and that the cost of the cooler would be in the ballpark of where it needs to be.

Better methods of cooling the internals of computers will be needed for new technologies like the graphene multiplier to come to market with the potential to push CPU speeds higher.



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Read it as "Ironic Wind"
By yacoub on 5/21/2009 12:47:02 PM , Rating: 2
Which made me think of a tagline for it: "I don't FEEL any wind, but ironically IT'S COOLER! WOW!"

;)




RE: Read it as "Ironic Wind"
By noirsoft on 5/21/2009 2:19:38 PM , Rating: 3
What's truly ironic is that if you put your laptop near one of those ionic coolers, all the charged particles will cause a hardware crash. My laptop would crash (garbled pixels on the display, hard lock) within five minutes when next to one, and in about an hour if sitting 6 ft away. It took me a while to uncover why my laptop would always crash when I was visiting my mom, but nowhere else. :D

As someone else said, I hope they have found a way to resolve that before they make any production samples.


RE: Read it as "Ironic Wind"
By MrPoletski on 5/26/2009 9:56:11 AM , Rating: 1
No, that would only be truly ironic if you had placed your laptop near an ozone producing air ioniser (or fitted a cooler based on it) for the purpose of increased stability.

Irony is where the intended meaning of your action/phrase inadvertantly ends up being the opposite to what that action/phrase accomplishes.

A good example of Irony is murdering a guy on the street because you wanted to kill somebody... only to find out you just killed a terrorist and foiled his plot which was about to kill millions.

By killing, you saved lives. That's ironic.

A few examples of things that are not Ironic are:

Rain on your wedding day
A free ride when you've already paid
Good advice that you just don't take
Winning the lottery and dying the next day
A death row pardon two minutes too late

But the song itself, named 'Ironic' is Ironic in itself because it does not give one single example of Irony but it purports to. Instead it reels off a comprehensive list of common misconceptions of what Irony is - therefore making it Ironic.


RE: Read it as "Ironic Wind"
By marvdmartian on 5/21/09, Rating: 0
RE: Read it as "Ironic Wind"
By grandpope on 5/21/2009 5:27:35 PM , Rating: 3
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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