Cooling and Power Conversion using Nanometer Gaps
A. Tavkhelidze and I. Cox
Cool Chips plc, UK
Keywords: cooling, refrigeration, thermal management, power generation, energy conversion, nanoscale devices
Our nanotech answer to these basic industrial processes is not to make very small turbines or compressors, but instead to take advantage of the physics that occurs at very small sizes. In this case, instead of using materials and fluids to pump heat or create power as is conventionally done, the Power Chip and Cool Chip use electrons as a working fluid. The principal process is quantum mechanical tunneling of hot electrons across a nanoscale gap. This work, in progress since 1997, has achieved the major task of making and maintaining a gap on the order of 5-10 nm across an active area of approximately 1 centimeter. While the gap created is on the order of nanometers, the construction tools used, including deposition and electrochemical baths, are decidedly mature. The gap is maintained in operation using a feedback loop similar to that of an STM or AFM. Newly presented will be a proposed design for mass fabrication of the resulting devices, as well as updates on the technical development. The challenges now are to integrate a thin film layer, and to move toward commercialization.
Nanotech 2004 Conference Technical Program Abstract