A HEAT SWITCH FOR CONTROLLING HEAT FLOW PATH IN ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS

switch is a fundamental part of most electrical and mechanical devices; mechanical switches can be used to select gears in a car’s transmission or used to unlock a door; electrical switches can turn the lights in a room on and off;  semiconductor uses to route logic signals within a circuit or control bigger devices. But what about heat flows? Can we possibly control the route of heat in a device? A Thermal Switch? Well, a thermal switch is an electromechanical device which opens and closes contacts to control the flow of electrical current in response to temperature change. A Thermal switch controls the flow of current concerning the temperature change, but this doesn’t actually control the flow of heat.

A HEAT SWITCH FOR CONTROLLING HEAT FLOW PATH IN ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS

Heat flow is very important to engineers, and the heat movement in a device can profoundly affect the system performance and reliability especially in an electronics system. Engineers have long desired a switch to control heat flows, but many challenges exist in the creation of such a switch. Researchers from the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new technology that allows users to turn heat flows “on” or “off.” This is a great development and it’s going to impact on future electronics systems.

“Heat flows occurs whenever you have a region on higher temperature near a region of lower temperature. In order to control the heat flow, the team engineered a specific heat flow path between the hot region and cold region and then created a way to break the heat flow path when desired” claims William King, the project co-leader and a professor at the department of mechanical science and engineering.

This technology became possible based on the principle of the “motion of a liquid metal droplet,” adds Nenad Miljkovic, assistant professor in the same department who also served as a project co-leader. “The metal droplet can be positioned to connect a heat flow path, or moved away from the heat flow path to limit the heat flow.”

A HEAT SWITCH FOR CONTROLLING HEAT FLOW PATH IN ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS

The team demonstrated the technology in a system modeled after modern electronic systems, giving the potential of being deployed to our everyday devices. On one side of the switch was a heat source representing the power electronics component; on the other, liquid cooling for heat removal. When the heat switch was on, the team managed to extract heat at more than 10 W/cm2, but as soon as the heat flow was turned off, they saw a drop by nearly 100X.

According to King, the next step for the research will be to integrate the switch with power electronics on a circuit board. A working prototype will be produced later this year. The research was published in a recent edition of the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Source: A HEAT SWITCH FOR CONTROLLING HEAT FLOW PATH IN ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS


About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

Ibrar Ayyub is an experienced technical writer with a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan University. He has written for various industries, mainly home automation, and engineering. He has a clear and simple writing style and is skilled in using infographics and diagrams. He is a great researcher and is able to present information in a well-organized and logical manner.

Follow Us:
LinkedinTwitter
Scroll to Top