Microchip Cooling for DARPA IceCool ProgramDon't let your electronics overheat. Qorvo and Lockheed Martin are cooling down tech.

    A team of Lockheed Martin and Qorvo engineers are working together to meet the goal of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program to enhance microchip performance through chip-level cooling techniques. The DARPA program, called Inter/Intra Chip Enhanced Cooling (ICECool), involves phases that have validated the increased performance of the RF MMIC power amplifiers and embedded computing systems through improved thermal management.

    "Right now, we're limited in the power we can put into microchips," said John Ditri, principal investigator on Lockheed Martin's ICECool team. "One of the biggest challenges is managing the heat. If you can manage the heat, you can use less material and that results in cost savings. If you can manage the heat and use the same number of chips, you'll get even greater performance in your system."

    Cooling High-Powered Systems From Within

    Qorvo and Lockheed Martin are working to apply its thermal management techniques with Qorvo's gallium nitride (GaN) on silicon carbide (SiC) QGaN15. This technology has the exciting potential to cool systems that need it the most — from sophisticated military equipment such as radars and electronic warfare to high-performance computers and servers.

    This approach can also be extended to existing or future die technology such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) and GaN on diamond. Roger Hall, general manager of Qorvo's Infrastructure and Defense Products said, "Qorvo has been working with DARPA since 2013 on breakthroughs involving GaN on diamond. Now we're thrilled to be working on a new microfluidic cooling approach for GaN and other microelectronics."

    Significant Increase in RF Output Power

    Qorvo and Lockheed Martin demonstrated an impressive, six-times increase in RF output power with its new chip-level heat removal, versus conventional cooling techniques.

    Hall said, "Fast and cost-effective cooling for high-powered microchips has far-reaching applications for the hundreds of chips inside everyday devices. By increasing the thermal conductivity and reducing device temperature, we are paving the way for new generations of GaN devices that may be much smaller than today's products."

    Qorvo and the ICECool team is developing a transmit antenna prototype and increasing the technology readiness level of this new cooling technique, so the electronics we all rely on perform effectively and efficiently. Stay tuned and keep your devices out of the sun for now — this technology can benefit any devices with high heat flux and it's being developed by our ICECool team.

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