Cooling is a constant design challenge. To meet that challenge, researchers at Bell Labs/Lucent are experimenting with a nanostructured surface that reduces viscous drag on cooling fluid. The intention is to use billions of silicon posts to aid in transferring heat from the silicon surface to the liquid coolant. Each post has a water-repellent, Teflonlike surface, so fluids flow without wetting. When researchers apply a small electric current to the posts, the droplets on the surface slick down and wet the surface. This technology allows researchers to study the details of fluid flow and heat transfer across such superhydrophobic surfaces. The nanograss also provides a tenfold increase in the effective surface area of a flat silicon surface, which also facilitates heat transfer.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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