Shrinking Portable Devices

Shrinking Portable Devices


By Richard Shim

A San Francisco company has received two patents for technology that may help achieve the Holy Grail of portable devices: making something smaller while not decreasing its battery life.

Novel Concepts has registered the patents for a passive cooling technology called IsoSkin. It consists of two pieces of metal separated by about 500 microns—less than the thickness of a credit card—and partly filled with fluid in a vacuum, according to the company.

In most cases the fluid is just a few grams of water, depending on the size of the device. IsoSkin is meant to be built into the case of a device and take heat from a hot spot, such as the area near a processor, and transfer it to a cooler area. “It essentially spreads heat and helps dissipate it,” said Novel Concepts President Dan Thomas.

The cooling method is similar to that used in some notebook PCs, where a heat pipe is placed on a processor to spread the heat it generates. Novel Concepts’ patents are for dissipating the heat across a thin plane rather than a pipe.