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High Efficiency heAt pipes using hierarchical nano Tubes

Project description

Pioneering carbon nanotube cooling technology unleashes processing power

Electronics dissipate energy as heat, and heat damages electronics; therefore, cooling systems are critical to performance and stability. Currently, heat pipes are the preferred cooling technology for mobile devices. Heat pipes are small-diameter pipes for high-efficiency, passive and compact heat transfer over a relatively large surface, allowing low heat flux to dissipate through the device cover to ambient air. Heat pipe cooling technology has not changed much in recent decades, and an update is needed to unleash the full power of modern processors. The EU-funded HEAT project is developing high-tech foams made of carbon nanotube composites processed with innovative technology to control pore size and thermal conductivity.


Modern electronic devices have flourished because of the relentless development of new lithographic processes that result in ever higher and more compact computing power. However, this increases the amount of heat generated in a decreasing volume. As a result the computing power of many modern processors is truncated to avoid thermal damage.

The preferred cooling technology for portable electronic devices are heat pipes. While this technology allows for impressive cooling performances, heat pipes have essentially remained unchanged for the past four decades, and are unable to satisfy the cooling requirements of modern processors. This project seeks to maximize the performance of heat pipes made using a new ultra-fast co-electroplating process that allows for the fabrication of an entirely new type of heat pipe material. Specifically, the developed process allows fabrication of 3D foams with microscale geometries (microfoams) that are made out of a carbon nanotube-copper composite. These foams exhibit capillary driven flowrates 250% that of commercial heat pipe foams, which is expected to provide a similar step-change improvement in heat pipe cooling power. The fabrication process itself is also disruptive because it enables an unprecedented control over the metal foam porosity and leverages the ultra-high thermal conductivity of the used nanoparticles. Further, our process is more energy efficient than current thermal sintering processes and it potentially allows for a continuous fabrication process.

Because of the combined advantages in cooling performance and efficiency of the manufacturing process, this developed technology could displace current heat pipes. However, to take this technology forward, it requires support from this ERC-POC project to study the scale-up of the manufacturing process as well as to develop heat pipe demonstrators.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 148 728,00
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom

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East of England East Anglia Cambridgeshire CC
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 148 728,00

Beneficiaries (1)