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Nanostructure coatings remove heat four times faster

By

June 10, 2010

Zinc oxide coatings on copper or aluminum substrates has proven the best heat dissipation ...

Zinc oxide coatings on copper or aluminum substrates has proven the best heat dissipation technique yet.

In a finding that could well revolutionize cooling technology as we know it, researchers at Oregon State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have discovered a way to achieve near-optimal heat dissipation by applying a nanostructured coating. Because of performance, versatility and economy of materials used, their method could soon lead to better electronics, heating and air conditioning.

We've recently discussed the importance of heat dissipation in electronics; however, while cooling laptops and the likes is an important issue in itself, they are by no means the only area that could benefit from better heat dissipation. The team's work focuses on heat transfer using water in particular and could be used in heating, cooling and air conditioning applications as well as keeping your lap from burning up the next time you check your email at the airport.

The advances claimed by the team are quite significant: achieving heat transfer performances close to the theoretical maximum, the coatings produced a "heat transfer coefficient" ten times higher than with the uncoated surfaces, dissipating heat four times faster than previously possible.

Surprisingly, the principles that brought to such a radical performance improvement are very simple, and consist of covering standard heat conducting materials — such as copper and aluminum — with a thin strate of zinc oxide. The coating develops a multi-textured surface that encourages heat to be transferred via capillary forces, and can be applied to large areas as well as electronic components.

Heat transfer can waste such a large portions of energy that for water to reach its boiling point of 100 degrees centigrade the temperature of adjacent plates often has to reach about 140 degrees centigrade. Using this new approach, however, water will boil at about 120 degrees when analogous, zinc oxide-coated plates are used.

Detailed technical information on the study is contained in a freely available paper published by the team. The research has been supported by the Army Research Laboratory, and further studies are currently being carried out to develop broader commercial applications for this technology.

About the Author
Dario Borghino Dario studied software engineering at the Polytechnic University of Turin. When he isn't writing for Gizmag he is usually traveling the world on a whim, working on an AI-guided automated trading system, or chasing his dream to become the next European thumbwrestling champion.   All articles by Dario Borghino
5 Comments

"Heat transfer can waste such a large portion of energy"

What tripe! Gizmag needs to get writers with some kind of science or engineering education, people who understand the difference between energy, rate of energy generation (power) and temperature differential. Poor thermal conductivity means a larger temperature differential is required to dissipate a given amount of power (Watts).

In fact, if your laptop had better thermal conduction from the heat dissipating components to your lap, you would get hotter, not cooler. As it is, with current poor conductivity, the innards must get hotter in order to get rid of the heat generated by the chips.

What this development will do is to make it easier to get the heat away from hot components and out to a cooler ambient. It won;t save energy - it may actually increase energy usage because engineers can now design systems that use *more* power before over-heating.

splatman
11th June, 2010 @ 07:28 pm PDT

Nanostructured coating technology once implemented for engine coolers (radiator, intercooler, etc) will really help designers to design compact coolers which is most challanging task especially in combat vehicles.

.......Congrats & thanks to each team member.

uday hadap
11th June, 2010 @ 08:30 pm PDT

Heat transfer does not per-se waste energy, although as the water heating example implies higher thermal resistance can indirectly lead to greater wasted energy due to higher temperatures (and conduction paths to ambient materials) on the heat transfer surfaces.

DH
12th June, 2010 @ 04:19 am PDT

wonder if it would be useful for thawing frozen stuff faster...

telocity
5th June, 2012 @ 12:13 pm PDT

just to clear the air on this as an IT Tech i have used zinc powder and paint thinner to paint on the zinc powder, then applied thermal grease and my reports run up to (10 degrees C) cooler than stock

Greg Brandon
22nd October, 2012 @ 09:52 am PDT
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