For decades, researchers have considered the potential for cooling hot electronic devices by blowing on them with high-speed air jets; however, air jet cooling systems are not widely used today. Two of the biggest obstacles that prevent the use of these systems is their complexity and weight. Air jet systems must be made of metal to be able to handle the pressure associated with air jets whose speed can exceed 200 miles per hour. And the air handling system can be complex, with many discrete components that manage the airflow and direct the air onto the hot spots where cooling is required.
Researchers developed a new type of air jet cooler that overcomes previous barriers to jet cooling systems. Using additive manufacturing, they created an air jet cooling system in a single component that can direct high-speed air onto multiple electronics hot spots. They manufactured the cooling system from strong polymer materials that can withstand the harsh conditions associated with high-speed air jets. The research focused on heat removal from high-power electronic devices. The acute thermal management problems of high-power electronic devices appear in a host of applications including electric vehicles, aircraft, automotive, and off-road vehicles.
The applications of high-power electronic devices are growing rapidly — in electric cars, solar power systems, 5G communications, and high-power computing utilizing graphics processing units (GPUs). The electronic devices in these systems generate heat that must be removed in order for effective and reliable operation. In general, higher power results in higher performance. Unfortunately, higher power also makes it more difficult to remove the heat. New cooling technologies are required to support the growth of electric systems.