Jumping Water Droplets Could Be the Future of Cooling Computers

Engineers have created a new water-based cooling system that could put an end to electronics crashing and overheating.

Heat is a natural enemy of electronics, it can cause computers to slow and crash, and damage important hardware to boot. So scientists at Duke University have been exploring a new technique inspired by insect wings to keep your CPU as cool as you are.

The concept behind every cooling system ever is basically the same: take heat from a hot area, move it to somewhere less hot, repeat ad infinitum. The details of how different systems do this exactly can vary a lot, and they range from simple to ingenious.

Heat sinks just let the electronics warm a set of metal fins with a large surface area while a fan blows cool air over the fins. The air warms up, absorbing the heat, and then is blown away. Only the most powerful pre 90s computers needed these but now they're a staple of home computers and have made higher processing speeds possible.

Heat pipes contain liquid and use heat to turn it into a vapor, which then travels to a cooler part of the pipe to condense again. The liquid then naturally flows back to the hot areas along grooves on the inside of the pipe because the liquid is attracted to the material, a phenomenon called capillary action.