Computer components, such as graphic processors, LED screens, and high-speed processors need cooling to dissipate all the power they consume. Fans, a common cooling device, are somewhat noisy and unreliable. An alternative, Nanospreaders from Celsia, Miami (celsiatechnologies.com), have thermal conductivities of more than 100,000 W/mk. (The same figures for copper and aluminum, for comparison, are 386 W/mk and 205 W/mk, respectively.)

The devices consist of a millimeter-thin copper plate etched with microchannels. A small amount of distilled water sealed inside acts as a working fluid. Applying heat, such as that from an over-worked graphics board, heats the liquid to a vapor in less than 0.2 sec. Pressure pushes the vapor through the channels where it gives off heat and changes back to a liquid. Surface tension or capillary action then moves the water back to the heat source where the process repeats.

Unlike heat pipes, Nanospreaders are as thin as 1 mm and flat on their conductive surfaces. This lets them uniformly cool surfaces and uniformly dissipate heat without creating hotspots of their own. There are no moving parts, no power requirements, no noise, and they work in any orientation. The cooling devices can also be made to any two-dimensional shape a customer wants.