“Cool Glue” Can Improve Computer Chip Temperature

The new technology could allow faster computer chips to be cooled more efficiently.

IBM researchers unveiled details of a new technique Thursday at the IEEE Semi-Therm Conference 2007 to significantly improve capabilities to cool computer chips.

The technique, developed by a team of scientists at the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory in cooperation with paste manufacturer Momentive Performance Materials, overcomes a barrier in chip cooling by improving the application of the binding agent that connects chips to their cooling systems. The new technology could allow faster computer chips to be cooled more efficiently.

As the circuits on chips become smaller, chips generate more heat during faster processing. To remove the heat from the chip, a cooling system is attached to the microprocessor using a special adhesive. This glue is necessary to bind the two systems together; however, it can create a barrier for heat release.

The team designed a special layout of micrometer-sized trenches in a tree-like branched structure consisting of larger and smaller trenches. This structure functions like an irrigation system for the paste at the specific areas where the particles, and heat, would accumulate. This allows the particles to spread more evenly and reduces the thickness of the paste gap.

The paste thickness was reduced three-fold and the pressure required to squeeze the paste to the same bondline thickness was similarly reduced. These lower assembly pressures ensure that the delicate components beneath the chip are not damaged as the chip package is created. The new technology allows air-cooling systems to remove more heat and helps to improve the overall energy efficiency of computers.

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