Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineers Aim to Solve 'Burning' Computer Problem

01.10.2008
"Laptops are very hot now, so hot that they are not 'lap' tops anymore," said Avik Ghosh, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Virginia. “The prediction is that if we continue at our current pace of miniaturization, these devices will be as hot as the sun in 10 to 20 years." Ghosh is investigating ways to reduce the heat of smaller and faster computers.

If you've balanced a laptop computer on your lap lately, you probably noticed a burning sensation. That's because ever-increasing processing speeds are creating more and more heat, which has to go somewhere — in this case, into your lap.

Two researchers at the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science aim to lay the scientific groundwork that will solve the problem using nanoelectronics, considered the essential science for powering the next generation of computers.

"Laptops are very hot now, so hot that they are not 'lap' tops anymore," said Avik Ghosh, an assistant professor in the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “The prediction is that if we continue at our current pace of miniaturization, these devices will be as hot as the sun in 10 to 20 years."

To head off this problem, Ghosh and Mircea Stan, also a professor in the department, are re-examining nothing less than the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The law states that, left to itself, heat will transfer from a hotter unit to a cooler one — in this case between electrical computer components — until both have roughly the same temperature, a state called "thermal equilibrium."

The possibility of breaking the law will require Ghosh and Stan to solve a scientifically controversial — and theoretical — conundrum known as "Maxwell's Demon."

Introduced by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1871, the concept theorizes that the energy flow from hot to cold could be disrupted if there were a way to control the transfer of energy between two units. Maxwell's Demon would allow one component to take the heat while the other worked at a lower temperature.

This could be accomplished only if the degree of natural disorder, or entropy, were reduced. And that's the "demon" in Maxwell's Demon. "Device engineering is typically based on operating near thermal equilibrium," Ghosh said.

But, he added, nature has examples of biological cells that operate outside thermal equilibrium.

"Chlorophyll, for example, can convert photons into energy in highly efficient ways that seem to violate traditional thermodynamic expectations," he said.

A closely related concept, Brownian "ratchets," will also be explored. This concept proposes that devices could be engineered to convert non-equilibrium electrical activity into directed motion, allowing energy to be harvested from a heat source.

If computers could be made with components that operate outside thermal equilibrium, it could mean better computer performance. Basically, your laptop wouldn't burst into flames as it processes larger amounts of information at faster speeds. Also, because it would operate at extremely low power levels and would have the ability to harness, or scavenge, power dissipated by other functions, battery life would increase.

Combining Ghosh's command of physics with Stan's expertise in electrical engineering, the two hope to bridge the concept of tackling Maxwell's Demon and Brownian ratchets from theoretical physics to engineered technologies.

"These theories have been looked at from a physics perspective for years, but not from the perspective of electrical engineering," Stan said. "So that's where we are trying to break some ground."

Fariss Samarrai | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.virginia.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Six-legged robots faster than nature-inspired gait
17.02.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Did you know that IR heat plays a central role in the production of chocolates?
14.02.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>