Nextreme Inc., a maker of micro-scale thermal and power management products in Research Triangle, NC, has developed a novel way to cool chips while banking energy. The company runs the cooling process in reverse, converting the heat into power circuitry that trickle-charges batteries. The process arises from an esoteric — yet basically simple — change in the way chips are packaged.
Nextreme's innovation creates a thermally active copper pillar bump. When electrical current is passed through the bump one side cools rapidly relative to the other and the bump actually generates power. While the principles behind the process have been known for a long time, they've only been possible thanks to recent advances in nanotechnology.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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