Heat sinks are what keep the components cool in our PC And in virtually every other electronic device now, researchers seem to have found a way to cool components without the use of these bits of metal. A Science Daily report discusses heat dissipation with a different, and perhaps even more elegant, approach, which would be a new copper conformal coating technology.
As you may know, heat sinks are made of copper or aluminum, two metals that serve as thermal conductors. They typically come with multiple metal fins that draw and disperse heat away from essential device components to help prevent them from overheating. The heat is then pushed out of the system with a fan.
THIS COOLING METHOD OFFERS “PERFORMANCE VERY SIMILAR TO, OR BETTER THAN, CONVENTIONAL HEATSINKS”
A group of researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley, published a study in Nature Electronics that replaces traditional heat sinks with “a conformal coating of copper” and “an electrically insulating layer of polymer.” that spreads over the entire device.
The researchers say this cooling method provides “similar, or even better, performance” compared to heat sinks. Since it also eliminates the need for an oversized part, this could save a ton of space inside electronic devices. Furthermore, according to the researchers, it can increase the power per unit volume of a device by up to 740 percent.
“This allows for many more printed circuit boards to be stacked in the same volume when using the copper-polymer conformal coating, compared to conventional liquid- or air-cooled heat sinks,” the study explains.
The researchers are still evaluating the effectiveness of this coating and plan to test it on graphics cards. It’s too early to tell if this kind of technology would be something that PC hardware makers would coat their components with. Surely the hardware will even change its appearance with this technology.
If the coating serves as a viable alternative to heat sinks, it could drastically change the appearance of electronics. Perhaps this coating might even kill the heat sink altogether.
We’ll surely miss those weirdly shaped heatsinks and logos manufacturers create on motherboards, but their absence would likely lead to even more freedom for creatives, both in space savings and component functionality.