Graphic courtesy of G. P. "Bud" Peterson
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers are developing a tiny, highly efficient heat spreader to be used in a new device to be implanted in the brain of patients who suffer from severe epileptic seizures. The implant device is designed to detect and arrest epileptic seizures as they begin by cooling a small region of the brain, thereby effectively blocking the erratic electrical activity.
G. P. “Bud” Peterson, provost and professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer, and his team are collaborating with researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to design, model, test, and develop the implant device. The research and the potential of the device are featured in the July 16 issue of New Scientist.
The heat spreader being developed at Rensselaer utilizes a phase-change heat process, the same mechanism that the human body uses to cool itself, to transfer and distribute heat in the brain. The fundamental principal behind the operation of the heat spreader is evaporation and condensation, similar to perspiration. Using a pure substance, saturated conditions are created inside the heat pipe, resulting in evaporation in the heated regions. Heat entering the pipe turns the liquid water to vapor, which is forced along the pipe by high pressure where it is condensed in the cooler regions. The dissipated heat is then pushed out of the heat pipe, and the wicking structure pumps the liquid back to the evaporator.
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