Research engineers at Purdue University are developing very small fans for cooling laptop computers and other portable electronic devices. "Cell phones don't currently have fans, but as we increase their functions, we increase the heat generated and will have to have a way of removing that heat," says Suresh Garimella, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue. He and colleague Arvind Raman designed the small piezoelectric fans that resemble classic hand-held Chinese fans. "We tried to imagine a cell phone with a rotary fan, but the picture we envisioned was something that would blow your hair in the air," explains Garimella. "The smallest fan we made so far is less than a half-inch square, but we believe we can make fans that measure 100 microns." In addition to their small size, the small fans use only 2 mW of electricity, compared to 300 mW used by conventional rotary fans in some laptop computers. Without motors that contain magnets, the new fans do not generate electromagnetic noise. The small fans also have no gears or bearings that produce friction and heat. Instead, the piezoelectric ceramic attached to the fan blades moves them back and forth with alternating current. Adjusting the frequency of the current helps optimize the fans for specific applications. "We are currently developing optimization techniques," says Garimella. "For example, we still need to determine the ratio of the thickness of the blade to other fan structures for particular applications." Other critical factors include where to attach the fan blade to the patch of piezoelectric material, the thickness of the blades, and their materials. "We think the blades could be made from Mylar, brass, or stainless steel," says Garimella. Mathematical models developed by the Purdue team provide design guidelines for specific applications such as computers, telephones, PDAs, and pharmaceutical mixing equipment. A research consortium whose members include Apple Computer, Nokia Research Center, General Electric, and Delphi Delco Electronics Systems funds the research. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, visit http://widget.ecn.purdue.edu/~CTRC.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.