Ionic-Cooling Laptop

What if every time your laptop hit 100°F, you didn't have to hear a noisy fan? Technology Review reports:
One novel idea is to cool a system by using ions to push air molecules across a hot microprocessor, thereby creating a cooling breeze. So-called ionic-cooling systems have been demonstrated in research labs before, but now Tessera, an international chip-packaging company based in San Jose, CA, has demonstrated an ionic-cooling system integrated into a working laptop... Tessera's ionic cooler sits near a vent inside the laptop. Heat pipes, which transfer heat using the evaporation and condensation of a fluid, draw heat away from the computer's processing units and toward the ionic-cooling system. Inside the ionic-cooling device are two electrodes: one that ionizes air molecules such as nitrogen, and another that acts as a receiver for those molecules. When a voltage is applied between the two electrodes, the ions flow from the emitter electrode to the collector. As they move, their momentum pushes neutral air molecules across a hot spot, cooling it down... The system can extract roughly 30 percent more heat from a laptop than a conventional fan can, and lab tests show that it could potentially consume only half as much power, the company says... Tessera isn't the only company looking at ionic breeze as a means to cool consumer electronics. Researchers at Garimella's own lab at Purdue have demonstrated a similar technology, which is being developed commercially by an early-stage Silicon Valley startup called Ventiva.
[image via Sherritalley]
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14 Responses to Ionic-Cooling Laptop

  1. yri says:

    w00t!~ Now, that’s cool, no pun intended. Ideally, a computer should be completely silent.

  2. mari says:

    Obviously you don’t have ThinkPads!

  3. TJ S says:

    Even if you don’t have a fan spinning, you’ll still hear SOME noise from air creating turbulence as it passes over heatpipes and through vent grates. But maybe caring about that only comes with years of reading SPCR.

  4. Anonymous says:

    if this is like traditional ionizers (like the stuff sold with air purifier) then it creates ozone which is a irritant at low elevation.

    have tons of these in a confined lab and you’ll have all your nerds with asthma needing inhalers.

  5. Rickyneck says:

    In this Laptop, still hear some noise from air creating turbulence as it passes over heat pipes and through vent grates but there is also a some good feature that the system can extract 30 percent more heat from a laptop ad it could increase power time of laptop or computer.

  6. spazzm says:

    O_M, if it is as water proof as indicated by the image it would be simple to wash off the dust buildup.

    Ionizers don’t have moving parts, so the cooling channel could be completely sealed off from the inside of the laptop.
    If it’s done right I think that could reduce dust buildup, or at least make it easier to clean up.

    The ozone might be a problem, of course.

  7. O_M says:

    …spazzm, if that turns out to be the case, then the image above fortells of something that would be more than welcome with notebook keyboards: the ability to flush the damn things clean. The only keyboards that I can’t just toss in the dishwasher and let dry for a couple of days are notebook ones, and for some reason those are the keyboards that seem to collect more gunk, junk, hair, food crumbs and even stray fruit flies.

    The future of notebook computing is $30.00 USD, 9V powered, and disposable. Just like the TI-30…

  8. spazzm says:

    Oh, picture unrelated. Sorry.

  9. RedShirt77 says:

    The little fan on my laptop doesn’t bother me. It’s the helicopter rotor that they squeezed into my Xbox that I need silenced

  10. O_M says:

    …And based on my own experience with ionizers, wouldn’t this lead to a quicker buildup of dust on the vents and fins? By at least an order of magnitude?

  11. Roy Trumbull says:

    I recall seeing heat pipe coolers in the Edmund Scientific catalog long ago but had never seen one implemented.
    Sony made a professional video tape recorder in the mid 1980s in which heat pipes were connected to the heatsinks of the motor drive transistors. It was show and tell time. We all took a look and said, “Wow!”

  12. PaulR says:

    I have a couple of Panasonic CF-25s. (I often get “Wow, you have one of those, cool!” from the commissionaires at airport security check-ins, if I’m dragging them around.)

    They are so quiet (no fan, HDD is encased in jelly) that the first time I saw them, I had to move the mouse, just to make sure the computer was actually on.

    Plus, they’ll take a bullet.

  13. takeshi says:

    @ yri:

    I’m not as concerned with my laptop being silent as I am with it being relatively silent compared to other environmental noise. As of this moment, my laptop’s fan is practically unnoticeable, and even with my open-ear headphones, so much of the noise is drowned out that cooling the machine efficiently is far more of a selling point. And most laptop fans don’t really become that noisy until heat takes its toll, anyway.

  14. Anonymous says:

    #13: Just take a screwdriver to most laptops made in the last 5 years to see a heat pipe.

    They’re not terribly complex or expensive to make, just a sealed pipe with state changing liquid. It’s just that until recently there weren’t many applications where you wouldn’t just stick a fan on it.

    Back to the title, I recall reading a case mod a year or so ago where someone took one of those Ionic Breeze things and used it to cool a desktop, along with solid state drives to make a completely silent, no moving parts computer. Not sure if it filled the room with ions, but I seem to remember he stripped out most of the air crapification parts.

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