‘Wet’ Computer Server
The University of Leeds is testing Iceotope, a liquid-cooled computer server in the hopes of slashing the carbon footprint of the Internet.
While most computers use air to cool their electronics, all of the components in the new server are completely immersed in liquid with the power-hungry fans replaced by a silent liquid cooling process that relies on the natural convection of heat.
Its designers calculate that the server cuts energy consumption for cooling by between 80 and 97 percent.
While the information industry enjoys an image of hyper efficiency and environmental friendliness, all internet use relies on remote servers, which are usually housed in large data centers that must be constantly cooled to remain operational. The reality is that the mobile apps, networked devices and 24-hour internet access on which we have come to rely are very energy hungry.
The server was designed and built by UK company Iceotope in conjunction with a team of researchers from the University of Leeds’ School of Mechanical Engineering. The first production system has now been installed at the University after two years of testing prototypes.
The team used computational fluid dynamics to model how the coolant flows through the new server’s components. The liquid is more than 1,000 times more effective at carrying heat than air. The non-flammable liquid coolant, called 3M Novec, can be in direct contact with electronics because it does not conduct electricity.
There is no equivalent of the noisy fans required by traditional computers and the server does not require an elaborate pump to move the coolant over its components. Instead, a simple low energy pump, located at the bottom of the cabinet, pumps a secondary coolant (water) to the top where it cascades down throughout all 48 modules due to gravity.
The secondary coolant terminates at heat exchangers within the cabinet for transfer of heat to a third and final coolant, on an external loop, taking the heat away for external cooling or reuse.
The third coolant can be drawn from “grey water” sources such as rainwater or river water, further reducing the environmental impact of the server. Because of the high cooling efficiency of the system, the output water can reach temperatures of up to 50 degrees Centigrade, which can be used for heating and other uses.
The Iceotope system uses 80 watts of power to harvest the heat from up to 20 kilowatts of ICT use. The server also does away with the need for ancillary data centre facilities such as computer room air conditioning units, humidity control systems and air purification, the researchers added.
Molecules Into Microtubes
A team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis unexpectedly found the mechanism by which tiny single molecules spontaneously grow into centimeter-long microtubes by leaving a dish for a different experiment in the refrigerator.
Once the researchers saw that the molecules had become microtubes, they set out to find out how. To do so, they spent about six months investigating the process at various length scales (nano to micro) using various microscopy and spectroscopy techniques.
What they found was that they could actually watch the self-assembly of small molecules across multiple length scales, and for the first time, stitched these length scales to show the complete picture. This hierarchical self-organization of molecular building blocks is unprecedented since it is initiated from a single molecular crystal and is driven by vesiclular dynamics in water, the researchers said.
This approach of making nano- and microstructures and devices is expected to have numerous applications in electronics, optics and biomedical applications.
The team used small molecules p-aminothiophenol (p-ATP) or p-aminophenyl disulfide added to water with a small amount of ethanol. The molecules first assembled into nanovesicles then into microvesicles and eventually into centimeter-long microtubules. The vesicles stick onto the surface of the tube, walk along the surface and attach themselves, causing the tube to grow longer and wider. The entire process takes mere seconds, with the growth rate of 20 microns per second.
The researchers found the mechanism by which tiny single molecules spontaneously grow into centimeter-long microtubes by leaving a dish for a different experiment in the refrigerator.
Organic Single-Component Conductor
While organic materials are often used as insulators, for example as the insulating coating of a wire, the field of organic electronics aims to develop organic materials that are highly conductive, similar to copper wire.
Single-component organic conductors that have been developed so far are semiconductors with room-temperature conductivities of 10-6～10-1 Scm-1 because of large Coulomb repulsion between the electrons and small molecular interactions.
A team of researchers at the Institute for Solid State Physics, the University of Tokyo, has developed a new type of purely organic single-component conductor with record conductivity at room temperature (19 Scm-1), composed of electrically neutral and symmetric molecular units, where the charge is widely delocalized. The assembled units form two-dimensional conducting layers which afford the metallic state under low pressure of around 10 katm.
This material has the highest room-temperature conductivity (19 Scm-1) and transitions into a metallic state at the lowest pressure (～10 k atm) yet achieved among purely organic single-component conductors, the researchers asserted.
Collaborative work with other teams showed the newly developed, highly conductive organic single-component material is composed of highly symmetric molecular units linked by strong hydrogen bonds to form two-dimensional conductive layers.
Organic materials are generally soluble and therefore can be applied to printed electronics. One anticipated use of this material is as a next-generation organic electronic material, for example, for single-component organic wiring.
~Ann Steffora Mutschler