Jumping-droplet electronics hot-spot cooling

Junho Oh, Patrick Birbarah, Thomas Foulkes, Sabrina L. Yin, Michelle Rentauskas, Jason Neely, Robert C.N. Pilawa-Podgurski, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Demand for enhanced cooling technologies within various commercial and consumer applications has increased in recent decades due to electronic devices becoming more energy dense. This study demonstrates jumping-droplet based electric-field-enhanced (EFE) condensation as a potential method to achieve active hot spot cooling in electronic devices. To test the viability of EFE condensation, we developed an experimental setup to remove heat via droplet evaporation from single and multiple high power gallium nitride (GaN) transistors acting as local hot spots (4.6 mm × 2.6 mm). An externally powered circuit was developed to direct jumping droplets from a copper oxide (CuO) nanostructured superhydrophobic surface to the transistor hot spots by applying electric fields between the condensing surface and the transistor. Heat transfer measurements were performed in ambient air (22-25 °C air temperature, 20%-45% relative humidity) to determine the effect of gap spacing (2-4 mm), electric field (50-250 V/cm) and applied heat flux (demonstrated to 13 W/cm2). EFE condensation was shown to enhance the heat transfer from the local hot spot by ≈200% compared to cooling without jumping and by 20% compared to non-EFE jumping. Dynamic switching of the electric field for a two-GaN system reveals the potential for active cooling of mobile hot spots. The opportunity for further cooling enhancement by the removal of non-condensable gases promises hot spot heat dissipation rates approaching 120 W/cm2. This work provides a framework for the development of active jumping droplet based vapor chambers and heat pipes capable of spatial and temporal thermal dissipation control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123107
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 20 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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