Lockheed Martin and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) want to cool high-powered microchips with microscopic drops of water.
“A core team of Lockheed Martin engineers is working on a solution to meet the goal of DARPA’s Inter/Intra Chip Enhanced Cooling (ICECool) program: to enhance the performance of RF MMIC power amplifiers and embedded high performance computing systems through chip-level heat removal techniques,” reported Lockheed and DARPA recently. The heat removal technique they are using is Lockheed’s microfluidic cooling approach.
The ICECool program is happening in two phases. Phase I of the program, which has already taken place, “verified the effectiveness of Lockheed’s embedded microfluidic cooling approach by demonstrating a four-times reduction in thermal resistance while cooling a thermal demonstration die dissipating 1 kW/cm2 die-level heat flux with multiple local 30 kW/cm2 hot spots. This is about four to five times more heat per unit area than most current chips dissipate, paving the way for future chip advancements.
“In Phase II of the program, the team has moved on to cooling high power RF amplifiers to validate the electrical performance improvements enabled by improved thermal management. Utilizing its ICECool technology, the team has been able to demonstrate greater than six times increase in RF output power from a given amplifier, while still running cooler than its conventionally cooled counterpart,” reported DARPA and Lockheed.
This research program could “ultimately lead to lighter, faster and cheaper way to cool high-powered microchips,” according to the companies.
In addition, Lockheed Martin is “developing a fully functional, microfluidically cooled, transmit antenna prototype to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of this technology,” as well as working with Qorvo to “integrate its thermal solution with Qorvo’s high performance GaN process.”
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