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Proceedings of theof

Proceedings ASME 2010 International

the ASME International Mechanical
Mechanical Engineering
Engineering Congress
Congress && Exposition
November 12-18,
12-18, 2010,
2010, Vancouver,
Vancouver, British
British Columbia,
Columbia, Canada



Yong-Jiun Lee, Poh-Seng Lee, Siaw-Kiang Chou

Department of Mechanical Engineering
National University of Singapore

ABSTRACT spots can be five to ten times higher than the average heat flux
Sectional oblique fins are employed in contrast to of the chip. Increment in die temperature and temperature
continuous fins in order to modulate the flow in microchannel gradient accelerates the meantime to failure (MTTF) and
heat sink. The breakage of continuous fin into oblique sections reduces the lifespan of electronic devices exponentially as
leads to re-initialization of boundary layers and generation of described by Black’s equation [2]. In addition, the hot spots are
secondary flows which significantly enhance the cooling unique that although their heat fluxes are extremely high, the
performance of the heat sink. In addition, oblique finned total power to be dissipated is low due to their small sizes.
microchannel heat sink has the flexibility to tailor local heat Unfortunately, conventional thermal management techniques
transfer performance by varying its oblique fin pitch. Clusters such as air-cooled heat sink and cold plate are fast approaching
of oblique fins at higher density can be created in order to their limits and cannot effectively handle the localized hot
promote greater degree of boundary layers redevelopment and spots. The implementation of conventional thermal management
secondary flows generation to provide more effective cooling at techniques, which are designed to provide uniform chip cooling,
the high heat flux region. Thus the varying of oblique fin pitch would result in either lower allowable chip power dissipation or
can be exploited for hot spots mitigation. Simulation studies of unnecessary overcooling of large chip areas at the expense of
silicon chip with hot spot shows more than 100% increment in increased pressure drop and pumping power. Thus, new thermal
local heat transfer coefficient at the high heat flux region for the management strategies must be developed to facilitate effective
variable pitch oblique finned microchannel compared with the non-uniform heat flux dissipation as well as hotspot temperature
conventional microchannel heat sink. Both the maximum management.
temperature and its temperature gradient are reduced by 12.4°C Bar-Cohen et al. [3] reviewed the potential of several direct
as a result. Interestingly, there is only little or negligible liquid cooling methods in controlling chip hot spots. Pool
pressure drop penalty associated with this novel heat transfer boiling, gas-assisted evaporative cooling, jet impingement and
enhancement scheme in contrast to conventional enhancement spray cooling are among the potential candidates in hot spot
techniques. mitigation, utilizing the very high heat transfer coefficient from
the boiling of liquid dielectric. However, the application of
KEY WORDS: enhanced microchannel, oblique fins, variable these techniques is currently limited by the inconsistency in
pitch, hotspot cooling boiling, jet/spraying as well as potential dry out that might
occur. Cho et al. [4] experimentally investigated two-phase heat
INTRODUCTION transfer in microchannel heat sinks with hot spots. For the 1D
The continuous miniaturization of electronic devices hot spot configuration (a strap of hot spot across the flow
coupled with advanced packaging technology led to the ever- direction), their concept of cross-linking the channels showed
increasing packaging densities and the associated heat fluxes much lower temperature than conventional microchannel heat
that need to be dissipated. On top of that, the variation in sink, primarily due to lateral flow mixing effect. Brunschwiler
transistor activities of different functional module results in et al. [5] on the other hand altered their cold plate in order to
highly non-uniform heat flux generation leading to significant address the hot spots issue. In their simulation study, hot spots
spatial and temporal temperature changes as shown by Watwe are shadowed by an array of jet nozzle, where the jet velocity
and Viswanath [1] through the power map of a silicon chip. can be throttled in accordance to the heat flux level of each hot
According to Watwe and Viswanath [1], heat fluxes on the hot spot. A 28% and 43% reduction in flow rate and system

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pumping power were respectively achieved compared to the corresponding flow paths for main and secondary flows are
unaltered cold plate if 20°C junction-to-inlet temperature illustrated in Fig. 1.
difference is allowed. A fluid-to-fluid spot-to-spreader (F2/S2)
hybrid heat sink was introduced by Green et al. [6] as an
integrated chip-level and hot spot-level thermal management
technique. The heat sink employs two separate fluids, which are
distinct and do not mix directly, for cooling the hot spots and
background heat flux. Fluid 1 is a high performance coolant
with superior thermal properties that is used solely to extract
heat from the hot spots while Fluid 2 can be liquid or gas (e.g.
air) that is used to dissipate the background heat flux. However,
both the tailored made cold plate and F2/S2 hybrid heat sink
require complicated manifold design for the coolant distribution
and collection, especially when the electronic chip has multiple
hot spots. Lee and Garimella [7] proposed a simple hot spot
mitigation scheme by creating recess at the cover lid just before
the hot spot. This technique exploits the boundary layer re-
initializing effect to locally enhancing the heat transfer.
Anisotropic thermal interface materials were introduced by
Bachmann and Bar-Cohen [8] to laterally conduct the heat away
from the hot spot towards the cooler areas of the chip. They Figure 1: Plan view of microchannel heat sink with oblique fins.
adopted the conductivity transformation method to model the
anisotropic thermal conductivity of annealed graphite, showing In this configuration, oblique cuts are made along the fins
substantial hot spot suppression over the isotropic spreader. to create smaller branching channels which serve to 1) disrupt
Moreover, annealed graphite is more cost effective than thick the boundary layers development, and 2) generate secondary
silicon spreader while lighter than copper spreader. On the other flows. The combined effect leads to the thinning of thermal
hand, thermoelectric (TE) device provides active cooling with boundary layer which promotes better heat transfer than the
no moving parts. Its poor coefficient of performance (COP) conventional microchannel configuration. The current design is
however rendered it an infeasible solution to cooling the entire inspired by the louvered fin structure of an air-cooled heat
chip. Despite the limited application for bulk TE material, exchanger. Such heat exchanger has its closely packed slit fins
researchers seriously explore the potential of micro- rotated at 20° to 45° relative to the air flow direction in order to
thermoelectric cooler (µTEC) in hot spot thermal management. promote better heat transfer. However, there are clear
Wang et al. [9] demonstrated that the miniaturized silicon distinction in the treatment for the flow regime between
thermoelectric cooler is able to eliminate 80% of the louvered fin heat exchanger and oblique finned microchannel
temperature rise of a 70µm × 70µm hot spot with a 680W/cm2 heat sink. The flow within louvered fin heat exchanger can be
heat flux. Besides, extensive simulation and experimental treated as a boundary layer flow with most of the fluid traveling
investigations are performed on super-lattice µTEC which is parallel to the louvers. Webb and Kim [18] also pointed out that
attributed with relatively higher value of TEC Figure-Of-Merit, heat transfer coefficient on the louver can be well-approximated
faster response time and reduced joule heating [10-16]. with the Pohlhausen solution for laminar flow over a flat plate
Recently, the concept of sectional oblique fins in with constant heat flux. On the other hand, for the current
microchannel heat sink was proposed by Lee et al. [17]. Their microchannel configuration, the oblique channels are sized such
numerical simulation demonstrated that significant local and that only a small fraction of flow is induced into the oblique
global heat transfer enhancements can be achieved with openings (channels).
negligible pressure drop penalty, through the combined effect of In a variable pitch oblique finned microchannel heat sink
thermal boundary layers redevelopment and generation of configuration, fin pitch can be varied locally, resulting in
secondary flows. This concept is unique that the fin pitch can be clusters of oblique fin at different densities. Shorter fin pitch
varied to tailor the heat transfer performance locally. The leads to closely packed oblique fins and channels resulting in
present study is a continuation to the work by Lee et al. [17] more intense thermal boundary layer redevelopment and
which serves to explore the capability of oblique fins with secondary flows generation. Consequently, local heat transfer
variable fin pitch for hot spot mitigation. performance is further enhanced. Conversely, longer fin pitch
reduces the number of oblique fin as well as the associated heat
MICROCHANNEL GEOMETRY CONSIDERATION transfer enhancement. Clearly, denser oblique fin cluster can be
The present work adopts sectional oblique fins to replace deployed at hot spots to provide more effective heat removal
the conventional continuous fins in microchannel heat sink while sparser oblique fin cluster is used to dissipate the lower
application. Plan view of the enhanced microchannel and the background heat flux without overcooling the chip. A potential

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embodiment of variable pitch oblique finned microchannel heat Characteristic Conventional Oblique finned
sink is shown in Fig. 2. microchannel microchannel
Constant Variable
pitch pitch
Major fin pitch, p1 - 1200 1200
Major fin length, l1 - 1070 1070
Minor fin pitch, p2 - - 400
Minor fin length, l2 - - 270

In order to facilitate a fair performance comparison, all the

heat sinks used in this simulation study have same aspect ratio,
channel width, fin width on a similar footprint. Apart from these
common geometrical characteristics, the oblique finned
microchannel with constant pitch has openings that are
Figure 2: Plan view of variable pitch oblique finned obliquely cut at 26.4° from the main channel with a pitch of
microchannel heat sink with hot spot. 1200µm. The oblique channel width is 65µm and the resultant
fin length in this case is 1070µm. As for variable pitch
Variable pitch oblique finned microchannel heat sink is configuration, oblique cuts of the same width but smaller pitch
effective especially for multiple hot spots configuration, where of 400µm are created directly on top of the hot spot. Figure 3
the denser fin clusters can be positioned directly on top of the displays plan view of the variable pitch oblique fins
hot spots. The present work investigates the hot spot cooling configuration employed in the simulation study.
performance of a variable pitch oblique finned microchannel
heat sink. Comparisons are made with constant fin pitch and
conventional microchannel configurations. For this simulation
study, a strip of hot spot measured at 12.7mm × 2.54mm (0.5in
× 0.1in) is located at the center of a 12.7mm × 12.7mm (0.5in ×
0.5in) silicon chip across the coolant flow direction. The
geometries for the oblique finned and conventional
microchannel heat sinks used in the simulation study are
tabulated in Table 1.

Table 1: Dimensional details for microchannel heat sinks

(All dimensions are in mm unless otherwise stated)
Characteristic Conventional Oblique finned Figure 3: Plan view of variable pitch oblique fins with
microchannel microchannel dimensions
Constant Variable
Material Silicon All the models for the conventional microchannel and
Heat sink footprint, 12.7 × 12.7 oblique finned microchannel heat sinks are generated using
width × length (mm2) GAMBIT v2.3. As illustrated in Fig. 3, enhanced microchannel
Number of channel, 62 with oblique fins exhibited a periodically repeating pattern
N spanwise. Thus, periodic boundary condition is used to reduce
Main channel width, 100 the computation domain to a fin-channel pair consisting of full
wc (µm) width oblique fins at the centre and two half-width main
Fin width, ww (µm) 100 channels on each side. The flow entering the computational
Channel depth, H 400 model through one periodic plane is identical to the flow exiting
(µm) the domain through the opposite periodic plane [19]. The
Oblique channel - 65 enlarged view of the computational domain is showed in Fig. 4.
width, wob (µm)
Oblique angel, θ (°) - 26.4

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a0 + a1T + a2T 2 + a3T 3 + a4T 4 + a5T 5
ρ (T ) = (10)
1 + bT
a0 = 999.8396 a4 = 1.49756 ×10-7
a1 = 18.22494 a5 = -3.93295 ×10-10
a2 = -7.92221×10-3 b = 1.81597 ×10-2
a3 = -5.54485 ×10-5 T has the unit of °C
Specific heat capacity,
c p ( T ) = 8958.9 − 40.535T + 0.11243T 2 − 1.0138 × 10−4 T 3 (11)
Thermal conductivity,
k (T ) = −0.58166 + 6.3555 ×10−3 T − 7.9643 ×10−6 T 2 (12)
Dynamic viscosity,
 247.8 

µ (T ) = 2.414 ×10−5 ×10 T −140 

 
Figure 4: Enlarged view of the computational domain for
oblique finned microchannel heat sink. On the other hand, silicon with constant thermal
conductivity, ks = 148 W/mK is selected as fins and heat sink
The top surface of oblique fins, oblique channels and main substrate material. A residual of 10-6 is set as the convergence
channels are first meshed with quad-pave scheme with a 10 µm criteria for continuity equation, x-velocity, y-velocity and z-
spacing spanwise and 10 µm spacing streamwise. Volume mesh velocity while that for the energy equation is set as 10-9.
for main channel, oblique fins and oblique channels are
subsequently generated with hex/wedge-copper scheme with 10 BOUNDARY CONDITIONS
µm spacing in longitudinal direction. Next, the volume for For all the three cases considered, fully developed velocity
bottom substrate (heater) is created with hex/wedge-copper boundary condition with an average velocity of 2 m/s is
scheme with 10 µm spacing in longitudinal direction tracing the assigned to the inlet. The corresponding volumetric flow rate
surface mesh from main channel, oblique fins and oblique across one single channel is 4.8 mL/min while the total
channels at the interface. A total of 1,639,715 hexahedral cells volumetric flow rate across the heat sink is 298 mL/min. The
are generated for the computational domain. corresponding Reynolds number, Re in the main channels is
On the other hand, symmetry boundary condition is 367. Pressure outlet boundary condition is assigned to the
adopted at the center of fin and channel for the conventional outlets, where the flow is assumed to reach atmospheric
microchannel heat sink configuration. The symmetry boundary pressure at the outlet of the microchannels.
condition assumes that there is no fluid flow and heat transfer Background and hot spot heat fluxes of 100 W/cm2 and
across the symmetry boundary surface. This effectively reduces 400W/cm2 respectively are imposed at the bottom of the heat
the simulation domain to half of the channel-fin pair. The sink while the top surface of silicon chip is assumed adiabatic.
microchannel edges are then meshed by interval spacing of 5
µm (spanwise), 10 µm (longitudinal) and 25 µm (streamwise)
resulting in 20 × 65 × 508 grid. Both fluid and solid regions are
Grid independence studies are conducted for the
meshed with hex-map scheme and hex-submap scheme
computational models adopted for the conventional and
respectively. A total of 660,400 hexahedral cells are generated.
enhanced microchannel heat sinks to ensure that the chosen
The simulations are executed with the general purpose
meshes are sufficiently fine to capture the important flow
commercial CFD software, FLUENT v6.3. Upon exporting the
physics. The resultant local Nusselt number from different
mesh files to FLUENT, 3D double-precision pressure based
meshes used are in close proximity to each other. For instance,
solver is selected with standard SIMPLE algorithm as its
the local Nusselt numbers of 4.84, 4.67 and 4.54 were obtained
pressure-velocity coupling method. Standard discretization
scheme is used for the pressure equation while second order with grids of 15 × 44 × 363 cells, 20 × 65 × 508 cells and 34 ×
upwind discretization scheme is selected for both the 93 × 635 cells, respectively for the case of conventional
momentum and energy equations. As for the material selection, microchannel at z = 10 mm. The local Nusselt number varies by
water-liquid is assigned with the thermophysical properties 3.51% from the first to the second mesh, and only by 2.78%
evaluated at mean fluid temperature (average fluid inlet and upon further refinement to the finest grid. Thus, the
outlet temperature). The temperature-dependant thermophysical intermediate grid (20 × 65 × 508 cells) was selected. On the
properties of water are adapted from Incropera [20] as other hand, local Nusselt numbers of 13.19, 12.50 and 12.30 are
followed: obtained with grids of 14 × 44 × 847 cells, 20 × 65 × 1270 cells
and 29 × 93 × 1815 cells, respectively for the case of variable
pitch oblique finned microchannel at z = 10.2 mm. The

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variations in local Nusselt numbers are 5.20% from the first to the main channel into them as illustrated in the velocity vector
the second mesh, and 1.60% from second to the finest grid. plot of Fig. 6.
Likewise, the intermediate grid (20 × 65 × 1270 cells) was


The introduction of oblique cuts along the continuous fin
disrupts the boundary layers development and promotes
secondary flow generation. The distinction between the flow
fields of both configurations is clearly illustrated by the velocity
contours in Fig. 5.

Figure 6: Velocity vector of flow inside the enhanced

microchannel showing a fraction of the flow branching into
oblique channel.

(a) (b) Oblique channel width, channel angle and fin pitch are
designed such that a small percentage of coolant from the main
Figure 5: Velocity (in m/s) contour of flow inside (a) channel is diverted into oblique channels. The secondary flows
conventional microchannel; (b) oblique finned microchannel thus created, where the coolant travels along the oblique
heat sinks. channel before it is subsequently being injected back into the
adjacent main channel. Upon convergence, they disrupt the
Figure 5(a) illustrates the mid-plane velocity profile of boundary layers further as well as promote better fluid mixing,
fluid in the conventional microchannel, showing consistent leading up to further heat transfer augmentation. The unique
velocity contour throughout the channel. This velocity contour oblique fin design modulates the flow and creates a repeatedly
suggests that the hydrodynamic boundary layer is fully developing flow field. Moreover, the oblique cuts introduced
developed and merged at the centre of the channel. Without any additional area for convective heat transfer.
disturbance/disruption to the flow field, the fully developed With the combination of boundary layer redevelopment,
velocity profile was maintained throughout the flow passage secondary flows generation and additional heat transfer area,
after a short entrance length. On the other hand, the breakage of the cooling performance of oblique finned microchannel heat
the continuous fin into oblique sections interrupts the velocity sink is greatly augmented, giving rise to both lower maximum
profile at the trailing edge of each section as evident from Fig. temperature and temperature gradient on the heat sink and
5(b). The discontinuity with the downstream fin caused the electronic device. This improvement can be significant
boundary layer development to restart from the leading edge of considering the hot spot is located some distance away from the
next downstream section. In addition, oblique fin section is channel inlet where the cooling performance of conventional
short in length, which limits the development of boundary layer microchannel heat sink has deteriorated due to the continuous
as compared to conventional long continuous fin. The thickening of thermal boundary layers. This leads to elevated
regeneration of the entrance effect causes the flow to be always temperature at the hot spot, which adversely affecting chip
in a developing state, which promotes better heat transfer. In performance and device reliability. In a variable pitch
addition, the oblique channels divert a fraction of the flow from configuration, cooling performance at the hot spot region can be
further enhanced with shorter pitch fin cluster. Locally, the re-

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initialization of thermal boundary layer and generation of thermal boundary layer reduces the heat transfer coefficient and
secondary flows occur at higher frequency, resulting in the corresponding cooling performance. As for variable pitch
significantly higher heat removal capability. oblique finned microchannel heat sink, a similar peak-and-
Figure 7 displays the temperature profiles at the bottom valley heat transfer coefficient profile is observed. However, the
wall of three heat sinks. Conventional microchannel heat sink heat transfer coefficient is kept relatively high (~80,000W/m2K)
shows the highest wall temperature at the hot spot region with a at hot spot region due to higher occurrence of thermal boundary
maximum temperature of 66.7°C while constant pitch oblique layer re-initialization and secondary flows at the finer pitch
finned microchannel heat sink on the other hand registered a oblique fin cluster.
maximum temperature of 60.3°C. Variable pitch oblique finned 120

microchannel further lowers the maximum temperature of the

heat transfer coefficient, h (x1000

hot spot to 54.3°C. By adopting sectional oblique fin
configuration, the temperature reduction at the hot spot region 80
can be as large as 12.4°C. Temperature gradient, which is

defined as the difference between the maximum and minimum 60

of heat sink bottom wall temperature displays the similar

decreasing trend. The temperature gradients of the
conventional, constant pitch and variable pitch oblique finned 20
Hot spot
microchannel heat sink are 38.4°C, 32.0°C and 26.0°C
respectively. Thus, the variable pitch oblique finned 0 0.002 0.004 0.006 0.008 0.01 0.012
microchannel heat sink is able to suppress the temperature spike streamwise position, z (m)
due to the hot spot. constant pitch variable pitch conventional
Figure 8: Comparison of heat transfer coefficients for
microchannel heat sinks.
Heater temperature, Th (°C)


55 The most interesting feature of the proposed scheme is that

50 the significant heat transfer augmentation is achieved with little
45 or negligible pressure drop penalty. From the earlier numerical
work by the Lee et al. [17], it was shown that the periodic
redevelopment of the hydrodynamic boundary layers coupled
with the generation of secondary flows actually resulted in the
increase of local pressure drop at each oblique section.
Hot Spot However, what is interesting is there is an accompanying local
0 0.002 0.004 0.006 0.008 0.01 0.012
pressure recovery (due to the flow diverging at oblique
streamwise position, z (m) channels) which more or less compensates the increament in
variable pitch constant pitch conventional
local pressure drop due to the thinning of hydrodynamic
boundary layers. The net result is the constant pitch oblique
Figure 7: Temperature profiles at bottom wall of heat sinks.
finned microchannel heat sink having a comparable pressure
drop with the conventional microchannel heat sink as illustrated
The concept of variable pitch oblique finned microchannel
in Fig 9. This distinguishes the proposed scheme from the
cooling is unique where fin pitch and the corresponding cooling
conventional passive heat transfer enhancement schemes which
performance can be locally tailored to address the non-uniform
usually incur a pressure drop penalty. For instance, pin-fin heat
heat flux distribution commonly encountered in actual
sinks achieve improved thermal performance over plate-fin heat
electronics. This is further illustrated in Fig. 8, where the local
sinks by disrupting the development of the thermal boundary
heat transfer coefficient profiles of three heat sinks are
layer in a unidirectional flow direction at the expense of a hefty
compared. As expected, conventional microchannel heat sink
pressure drop penalty [21].
has a very high heat transfer coefficient (~100,000W/m2K) at
the inlet region due to the entrance effect. The heat transfer
coefficient however, quickly diminishes as coolant flows
downstream resulting in poorer convective heat transfer
(~20,000W/m2K). In contrast, the constant pitch oblique finned
microchannel heat sink demonstrates a periodically repeating
peak-and-valley heat transfer coefficient profile. The peaks
correspond to the leading edges of the oblique fin where
thermal boundary layer is re-initialized and secondary flow is
generated. As the coolant travels downstream, the growth of

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40000 Having the ability of tailoring the local heat transfer
performance, the variable pitch oblique finned microchannel
heat sink offers an attractive solution for the mitigation of hot
Static pressure, P (Pa)

30000 spots which is fast becoming a critical issue for electronics

25000 especially when this passive technique incurs little or negligible
pressure drop penalty. In addition, this technique does not
require overcooling of the entire chip to suppress hot spots and
15000 hence is more energy efficient.
Hot Spot This research was supported by the Singapore Ministry of
0 Education Academic Research Fund (Tier 1) Grant number R-
0 0.002 0.004 0.006 0.008 0.01 0.012
streamwise position, z (m)
variable pitch constant pitch conventional
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