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A water-cooled chip

Both sides of the chip created at EPFL, on a coin for scale

R. Van Erp / EPFL

A group led by Brazilian electronic engineer Elison Matioli at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland has proposed and manufactured a semiconductor chip equipped with an internal cooling system that works by pumping water through a three-dimensional network of microchannels. These tiny enclosed cavities, the width of which varies from 25 to 100 micrometers, are located below the active components of the circuit, where heat originates. Water flowing through the microchannels efficiently extracts the heat from these regions and reduces the chip’s temperature. The technology could make microcircuit thermal regulation up to 50 times more efficient than chips equipped with conventional cooling systems and could enable the creation of even smaller electronic components (Nature, September 10).