National Science Foundation
Cooling Technologies Research Center
Purdue University - School of Mechanical Engineering logo

Target Industry

CTRC Research Image

The CTRC addresses pre-competitive, longer-term research and development issues in the area of high-performance heat removal from compact spaces. The continued miniaturization of semiconductor-based components and devices, with expanded functionality at reduced cost, challenges the viability of products across a broad spectrum of industry applications. Even as the scaling of semiconductor chips slows, the drive to integrate many electronic devices having a diversity of functionalities into a single platform brings extreme thermal management challenges. Challenges in this industry are further driven by global trends including the need to efficiently store, transmit, and process extreme quantities of data in the Zettabyte era, the increasing electrification of transportation and renewable energy technologies, and the explosion of interconnected computing devices having unconventional forms, use-cases, and environments. In view of these rapidly evolving markets, for which it has become evident that most of the known technological capabilities are approaching their limits, research into advanced cooling technologies is vital.

There is a need to remove heat from confined spaces in a variety of applications such as power electronics, information and communications technologies, automotive electronics, portable/wearable electronics, medical equipment, pervasive computing devices, electric vehicle batteries and motors, large-scale servers, high-performance computing systems, military electronics, avionics, and power transmission systems, to name a few. Across all of these applications, the space and performance constraints imposed call for sophisticated cooling techniques that are easy to implement in products. Proper thermal management can lead to important gains in reliability, efficiency, and performance. However, an outstanding challenge is the diverse range of operating powers, dynamic working scenarios, performance objectives, form factors, user interfaces, environmental boundary conditions, regulatory situations, consumer perceptions, and cost/reliability/safety constraints. A variety of thermal management techniques must be developed to address this range of needs, with some prognostication of the application requirements and lead-time before they become immediately essential in products. It is this role of exploring new technologies and discovering ways to more effectively apply existing technologies to compact cooling that is central to the vision and operation of the Center.

The importance of this industry to the nation's economic health is certainly beyond question, considering this industry has almost single-handedly powered the information revolution and the robust US economy over the last decades. The research agenda for the Center is, in turn, crucial to the health of this industry.