Is your processor running too fast, too cool, and using too little power? Neither is mine. As Moore’s Law continues to march towards ever-increasing chip densities, semiconductor heat and power consumption have become the limiting factors in microprocessor development. With the limits of air-cooling already being tested, and with water-cooling still seen as a fringe technology by many, how is all that heat going to get dissipated? If you’re a researcher at the University of Tokyo, you do it with pipes, magnets, and a healthy dollop of “nano-oil.”
The novel cooling device uses oil impregnated with metallic nanoparticles as the heat transfer medium. The oil absorbs heat from a hot CPU and, with the aid of a magnet, naturally flows to a cooler region–in this case, a heat exchanger. The heat is removed either via radiating or forced air cooling, and the now-cool fluid naturally flows back to the CPU.
Dispensing with pumps makes the system utterly reliable as well as smaller, quieter, cheaper, and more power-efficient than other technologies like heatpipes. Such advantages look mighty tasty indeed to manufacturers wedging hot chips into cramped environments like laptops.