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Self-cooling microchips could make your smartphone more efficient

A self-cooling microchip

Alain Herzog / EPFL

Microchips with built-in cooling systems could help make electronic devices that are more compact and efficient.

The density of transistors on microchips – and thus the speed and capability of devices such as computers and smartphones – has grown rapidly over the past few decades. But as we cram more transistors together, microchips get warmer, which could eventually limit this trend, says Elison Matioli at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

We currently use heat sinks to cool microchips, a piece of metal that conducts heat and releases it into the air. This …

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