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The heatsink may finally have a more slender competitor

Heatsinks are the default when it comes to keeping components on your computer and practically any other electronic device cool, but researchers may have found a way to cool your components without using these slotted blocks of metal. a report from science daily (via Tom’s devices) highlights a new, more elegant approach to cooling that involves coating the entire device with polycarbonate and copper.

If you are not used to using heatsinks, they are usually made of copper or aluminum, two metals that act as heat conductors. They often come with several metal fins that draw heat and diffuse it away from the main components of your machine to help prevent them from overheating. The heat is then pushed out of the system by a nearby fan.

A group of researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley published a study in nature electronics Which replace the traditional heat sinks “conformal coating of copper” and “electrical dielectric layer of poly” that is spread over the entire device.

The researchers say this method of cooling gives you “very similar, or even better performance” when compared to heatsinks. Since it also eliminates the need for a bulky piece of metal, this can free up a significant amount of space inside electronic devices, which researchers claim can increase the device’s power per unit volume by up to 740 percent. “You can stack more printed circuit boards of the same size when using our coating, compared to if you use conventional liquid or air-cooled heat sinks,” the study explains.

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Researchers are still evaluating the effectiveness of this coating and plan to test it on power units and graphics cards. It’s too soon to tell if this type of technology will be something PC parts makers pre-pack their components with or if you have to do it yourself.

If the coating serves as a viable alternative to heatsinks, it can drastically change the look of electronics in ways I can’t even fathom. Maybe the paint could totally kill the heatsink. While I would somewhat miss the funky shields that manufacturers make to hide the heatsinks on motherboards, their absence could lead to more creative freedom in the look and functionality of a range of components.

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