GE's piezoelectric cooling jets destined to replace computer fans

What you're looking at here is a piezoelectric cooling device, called a DCJ. By rapidly vibrating, it can force jets of cool air over hot surfaces quietly and efficiently, and GE says that it'll soon be taking the place of noisy, dirty, power-sucking fans in laptops and other electronics.

The cooler works by rapidly expanding and contracting in response to electricity. It's really just two flat plates, and when the plates expand, they suck in cool air at the sides. Contracting forces the air out the front. Do this a hundred times a second, and you've got a very small, very flat (the size of two quarters) cooling solution. In fact, it's 50% smaller than a traditional fan, and it operates nearly silently while consuming half the amount of power to move the same amount of air. Sold!

DCJs are best at localized cooling as opposed to overall system cooling, so instead of one giant DCJ hooked up to a heatpipe that's trying to cool your CPU and graphics card and RAM all at the same time, a better solution (GE suggests) might be to have three or six or however many smaller DCJ units all focused on cooling their own little part of your computer.

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This is not the first time we've seen this tech from GE: the company announced an LED light bulb back in May that used "SynJet" technology, and I'm going to just go ahead and quote myself here, "a speaker-like diaphragm vibrating at between 40 and 70 times per second to send puffs of air over the LEDs." This version is likely has to be a bit more powerful to cool down a laptop, and my guess is that the first applications won't be in gaming machines, but rather netbooks, ultrabooks, and tablets.

As far as when you might see DCJs in consumer electronics, OEMs are already getting access to working units, so it seems reasonable to assume that we'll be getting DCJ integrated devices within a few years.

Check out some operating piezoelectric cooling jets in GE's video below.

GE, via ExtremeTech

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