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Student’s ‘cool’ calculations boost electronic devices’ performance

Anjali Chauhan’s research may one day have a place in your pocket.

She works on simulations of advanced cooling solutions for high-powered microelectronic devices. If that sounds a tad abstract, consider that everything from your cell phone to your car relies on microprocessors, which generate tremendous heat as they work. Better cooling will ultimately mean better performance and even smaller devices.

Chauhan, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, studied metallurgy as an undergraduate in India. An interest in electronics packaging research brought her to Binghamton.

“Most people don’t know how electronics work,” she says.  “I’ve become excited by learning more and more about them. It’s amazing to see what goes inside a chip.”

Chauhan studies with Kanad Ghose, professor of computer science, and Bahgat Sammakia, director of Binghamton’s Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center and interim vice president for research. They have an interdisciplinary group focused on different aspects of chip-cooling research.

Chauhan is studying new three-dimensional chip designs that can operate at high speeds for applications that require the highest performance.

“Such designs are difficult to manage from a thermal perspective since they dissipate very high power and are also packaged compactly,” Sammakia says.  “In some cases the only way to cool them is to use liquid cooling in tiny micro channels that circulate cold water right in the middle of the devices.”

Chauhan, who has already earned a master’s degree from Binghamton and published a couple of papers, expects to go into industry after completing her degree. She says she likes the idea that she’s contributing at the  “ground level”  to ideas that may reach the marketplace in the next 10 years.

“It feels good to be doing something new, something that no one else is doing,”  she says.  “It’s creative. The electronics industry is looking for cooling solutions for high-powered electronic devices, and that’s where my research can play a distinctive role.”

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