Military Embedded Systems

Research team works on creating cooling tech for high-powered microchips


March 08, 2016

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Research team works on creating cooling tech for high-powered microchips
Photo by Lockheed Martin

MOORESTOWN, N.J. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) and Lockheed Martin are working on cooling technology for high-powered microchips. The Inter/Intra Chip Enhanced Cooling (ICECool)-Applications research program is aimed at electronic warfare, radars, and high performance computers and data servers.

A team at Lockheed Martin is working to enhance the performance of RF MMIC power amplifiers and embedded high performance computing systems through chip-level heat removal techniques within the ICECool program, which aims to cool chips with microscopic drops of water.

In the ICECool Phase I of the program, engineers were able to verify a microfluidic cooling approach that resulted in a four-times reduction in thermal resistance while cooling a thermal demonstration die dissipating 1 kW/cm2 die-level heat flux with multiple local 30 kW/cm2 hot spots.

Phase II moved the team to cooling high power RF amplifiers to validate the electrical performance improvements enabled by improved thermal management. During this phase, engineers have been able to demonstrate greater than six times increase in RF output power from a given amplifier.

To move the technology forward, Lockheed Martin engineers are developing a microfluidically cooled, transmit antenna prototype to increase the technology readiness level. Lockheed Martina and Qorvo are working to integrate its thermal solution with GaN semiconductors by removing current thermal barriers.

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