Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Alain Herzog (EPFL)

Cooling computer chips with microfluidics

Computing & Tech

Researchers have developed a chip that uses much less energy to keep itself cool

Spotted: Computer chips are more ubiquitous – and more powerful – than ever. But as chips become more powerful, they also produce more heat. Today’s computer chips are said to generate more concentrated heat than a barbeque. However, cooling the chips both limits performance and takes a lot of energy.

This is exactly what Swiss startup Corintis may have now done. The company, founded in 2022 and headquartered at EPFL Lausanne, is developing an in-chip cooling solution that uses microfluidic technology. This extracts heat using microscopically small liquid cooling channels, which can be adapted to suit the layout of individual designs. Corintis’ solution extracts around ten times more heat than conventional methods – and without the same losses in efficiency.

According to the company’s co-founder and CEO, Remco van Erp, “High-performance chips are the backbone of our digital infrastructure. Many of the global challenges that we face as a society, from climate modeling to drug discovery, constantly require powerful chips. Effectively cooling down of chips is an essential ingredient to advance this infrastructure without increasing the burden on our environment.”

Although the chips are still in the development stage, Corintis has recently received a CHF 150,000 Venture Kick award which will allow the company to accelerate the commercialisation of its technology and establish pilots with major industrial partners.

As incorporating computer chips in everything from toasters to toilets becomes standard, there has been a growing interest in making the chips more energy efficient – and more sustainable. Springwise has also spotted a fully recyclable computer chip substrate, and a chip with reduced energy usage that could give smartphones a week-long battery life.

Written By: Lisa Magloff


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