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Multiphysics Simulation: An IEEE Spectrum Insert
Manager’s Guide

Silent Air Cooling: A New Approach to Thermal Management

Nels Jewell-Larsen,
Tessera Technologies, CA, USA

Removing heat from electronic devices is a necessity that up until now was achieved by rotary fans. Tessera, a company that delivers innovative miniaturization technologies and products for next-generation electronic devices, developed a replacement for rotary fans that can satisfy demanding space and noise constraints. They designed a silent air cooling system that uses an electric field to ionize and move nitrogen molecules in ambient air, resulting in an air flow that cools the device.

To create their model, Tessera turned to simulation using the CFD and AC/DC modules of COMSOL. Their simulation needed to take electrostatics, charge generation and transport, fluid dynamics, and heat transfer into account and model all this phenomena together. After key aspects of the blower were designed in COMSOL Multiphysics, they were ported over to a CAD software to design the rest of the system. The end result was a reliable, compact unit that operates at less than 15 dBA, which is below the average threshold for hearing.

Multiphysics plot of a two stage Silent Air Cooling air mover. Space charge density as a surface map (red color indicates higher space charge density) with space charge flux lines shown by white lines. Air velocity displayed as arrows, with arrow length linearly scaled to velocity.