2016 Solid-State Cooling and Heating Trends

December 30, 2015

Solid-state cooling and heating is gaining momentum across several applications, including refrigeration, chips, and lasers. As a semiconductor company manufacturing high-tech solid-state devices designed for cooling and heating just about anything, where do we think solid-state cooling technologies will head in 2016?

Top 4 Solid-State Cooling and Heating Predictions for 2016

1. Internet of Things = more data storage = more cooling needs

Aging infrastructure, increasing environmental mandates, and the “Internet of Things” are creating more challenges than ever on the electric grids worldwide. According to USA Today, there are about 200 billion “things” in the world, with about 20 billion of them connected and communicating—a number that is expected to grow to 30 billion “things” by 2020. That equates to a lot of data storage needs which in turn demands sustainable, superior cooling capabilities, something thermoelectric solutions are proving superior in doing.

2. Climate Control in the Home

house200 global leaders just gathered in Paris to approve the COP21 Climate agreement. Most of this agreement is focused on scaling back CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions clearly are connected to climate change, but other man-made compounds (e.g., Freon) commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems have a GWP (Global Warming Potential) thousands of times higher than CO2. We predict that Freon-free refrigeration and climate control systems will begin to emerge in 2016.

3. Small Space Living will Drive Cold Storage Product Innovation

Why does a refrigerator have to be a big, ugly box that dominates the whole kitchen, whole house? Why not a built-in drawer? Why the kitchen? Why can’t refrigeration be in, say, the arm of your favorite sofa, or integrated into your coffee table? Answer: The motors and compressors necessary to make these systems general preclude any innovative design or form factor considerations. With a 40-year high in construction of smaller homes, we predict that the trend toward urban small space living will be the catalyst for us to re-think the whole “refrigerator has to be a big box” paradigm. Enabled by clean, quiet, energy-saving thermoelectrics, we see the form factors of the past morphing into elegant, functional and integrated refrigeration where and when you need it.

4. Continually Extending Moore’s Law

Heat sinks, fans, vapor chambers, heat pipes, water, even liquid emersion – are all thermal solutions used by designers to maintain the operating temperatures of electronic components within specified or optimal performance ranges. As the density of electronics (not just good old Moore’s Law, but the number of components in a package) increases, the use of these solutions becomes more difficult. As densities increase, the amount of space available for cooling solutions typically decreases and the cost and/or power used to move the heat from the components to the outside world becomes critical. Solid-state cooling technology from Phononic has the ability to manage 2X the processor power at the same temperature compared with standard heat sinks. That’s a ΔT of approximately 10°!

What cooling and heating challenges do you think solid-state technology, such as Phononic’s thermoelectric devices, or complete systems can help solve?

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