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John O | March 2019

imec unveils new microfluidic, microchannel heat sink for high-performance chip cooling

By Josh Perry, Editor


At the Embedded World Conference 2019 in Nuremberg, Germany, imec, an international research and development and innovation hub based in Leuven, Belgium, revealed a silicon-based, microchannel heat sink for high-performance cooling of next-generation chips.


imec’s new microfluidic heat sink can be used to cool high-performance chips. (imec)


According to a press release from imec, the microfluidics heat sink has a thermal resistance of 0.28-0.34 K/W at less than 2 W pump power. The use of silicon, parallel microchannels, which are only 32 micrometers wide and 260 micrometers deep, expands the surface area of the heat sink and increases its heat transfer coefficient.


imec insists that this new heat sink will dissipate more than 600 W/cm2, while keeping the junction temperature at 100°C.


“The key attribute of silicon is that it can realize high-aspect-ratio microstructures at low cost by leveraging massively parallel production processes and is directly integrable in the semiconductor infrastructure,” the press release from imec explained. “In the current version, the Si-based microchannel heat sinks are fabricated separately and then interfaced to the back side of a heat-dissipating chip.”


Researchers developed a CU/Sn-Au interface to reduce the thermal contact resistance between the device and the heat sink. Also, its microcooler can be tailored precisely to system constraints, including space and the available amount of coolant.


“Imec’s microfluidic heat sink realized on a Si platform is a best-in-class technology demonstrating the lowest thermal resistance allowing a power dissipation of over 600W/cm2 in a very small form factor. It allows for an increase in heat flux by two orders of magnitude compared to classical metal heat sinks,” said Philippe Soussan, Principal Member of the technical staff, in the press release.


“Imec is working towards developing a next generation of this chip cooling solution, directly integrating the heat sinks and the IC at wafer scale, aiming at an additional cost of one USD.”

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