June 27, 2002
National Science Foundation, industry establish center at Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. High-tech industrial competitors collaborating to develop new compact cooling technologies met for the first time as members of a newly designated National Science Foundation research center at Purdue University.
Suresh V. Garimella, a professor of mechanical engineering and founder and director of the Compact, High-Performance Cooling Technologies Research Center, said the NSF designation as an industry/university cooperative research center became official this month.
The collaborative effort started in 1999 when the industry members joined together in a consortium to pool resources and defray research and development costs. The consortium is now funded by private industry, the National Science Foundation and Purdue with a total current annual budget of almost $500,000.
Purdue faculty submit research proposals to address industry members' needs, and the center's industry members vote to rate the proposals. Results are disseminated to the members at two technical review meetings held each year and projects are chosen collectively. Purdue researchers then work on projects that receive the highest ratings.
"This center brings the extensive, synergistic expertise amongst a number of faculty in the Schools of Engineering at Purdue to bear on challenging problems in developing compact cooling technologies," Garimella said. "The center represents a mutually beneficial relationship between Purdue and key industries in the electronics and telecommunications fields, facilitated by the National Science Foundation."
With both the NSF and industry endorsement, the center also will be good for students, he said.
"Our students benefit from being exposed to cutting-edge industrial problems, and the industries benefit from the innovative approaches and designs we develop."
Joining Garimella are professors from the schools of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Aeronautics and Astronautics who will work on research projects.
Current center industry members include Aavid Thermalloy, Apple Computer, Delphi Delco Electronics Systems, Eaton, General Electric Co., Intel Corp., Modine Manufacturing, Nokia Research Center, Rockwell and Sandia National Laboratories.
Garimella said the vision of the center is "to address research and development needs of members from diverse industries and product lines in the area of high-performance heat removal."
It is important to cool electronic circuits because heat reduces performance and can even destroy the delicate circuitry. A major obstacle to making smaller electronic devices is the need to remove heat from small spaces, he said.
Researchers at the center are working on technologies that could have a variety of applications, from electronics and computers to telecommunications and advanced aircraft. Examples of the technologies being studied are minuscule "heat pipes" that cool electronics with internally circulating fluid, chips that cool electronic components by using "microchannels" as small as the width of a human hair, innovative types of tiny fans and "phase change" materials that turn from solid to liquid as they absorb heat.
"We look forward to the continued growth of this center into an influential source for research and development in thermal management solutions," Garimella said.
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