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MIT Develops a Cooling Technology of the Future

In terms of cooling, we presently use our massive (and impressive-looking) heatsinks made of heat-conductive metals all in hopes of drawing as much heat as possible away from our chips.

Researchers at MIT have made a notable breakthrough in transforming polyethylene, the most widely used polymer, into a material that conducts heat just as well as most metals while retaining its properties as an electrical insulator.

Another special property of this transformed polyethylene is that it conducts heat very efficiently in just one direction, which makes it highly suitable for cooling a computer chip.

While discoveries such as this are often in an infancy stage that makes it just dream material for computer enthusiasts, the added promise in this latest breakthrough is recognition and interest from Intel.

Ravi Prasher, an engineer at Intel, took notice of the work and characterized the researchers' work as "phenomenal," and added that "this is a very significant finding."

Read more at MIT.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • XD_dued
    Impressive. Lighter too?
    Reply
  • shadow187
    But how cheap is it to produce in mass-quantities?
    Reply
  • jrharbort
    This has me quite curious. I'm wondering how something like this would perform after long term use. Most common plastics get very brittle and break (or even melt) after being exposed to a heat source for too long.

    On the plus, it should be cheaper to produce than copper/aluminum based coolers.
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    sounds amazing.. but so do most things, i'm sure it has some issue such as high cost or something.
    Reply
  • sheath
    shadow187But how cheap is it to produce in mass-quantities?
    Its polyethylene, it cant be that expensive.
    Reply
  • akhodjaev
    let us know when it is toddler stage. maybe there will be positive changes and maybe ready for implementation
    Reply
  • cheepstuff
    @ shadow187
    polyethylene is a petroleum-based compound. it is also the base component in plastics. because there is already a huge industry dealing with this kind of material, you should expect it to be more expensive than a child's action figure but less than a common, high end, full copper heatsink you can find today (assuming it is made without any other expensive components like copper).

    according to the source, the only difference in making this stuff over normal plastics is slowly lining up the polymers so they all face one direction. IMO this could be interesting because we could eventually get flexible heat pipes out of this.
    Reply
  • ecmjr
    I want my cold beverage while surfing gaming :)
    Reply
  • ecmjr
    "Surfing the web AND Gaming"
    Reply
  • thrust2night
    Knowing Intel, they will brand it as an "Extreme Edition" cooler going for $999.99 in quantities of a thousand.
    Reply