A pin fin microheat sink for cooling macroscale conformal surfaces under the influence of thrust and frictional forces

Lyndon S. Stephens, Kevin W. Kelly, Demetris Kountouris, Jeff McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Conventional microheat sink design primarily focuses on the use of continuous fin arrays to optimally dissipate thermal energy from electronic components. By contrast, this paper experimentally measures the thermal and structural performance of two micro pin fin heat sinks designed for use in load bearing applications such as mechanical seals and thrust bearings. One pin fin array is of low porosity, which is more optimal for load bearing capacity, and the other is of high porosity, which is more optimal for heat dissipation. By using these two extreme cases, the thermal-structural tradeoff found in load bearing microheat sinks is demonstrated. The heat sinks are constructed of nickel, electrodeposited onto a stainless steel thrust ring using a modified LIGA technique. Under forced air cooling, the thermal performance of each is compared to a simple model based on a combination of macroscale pin fin heat sink results and classical correlations for fins in cross flow. The low porosity design is also tested under the application of a 44.5 N thrust load at 2500 rpm and found to be structurally sound. Experimental temperature profiles demonstrate a substantial benefit of the microheat sink in cooling the load bearing surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-231
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received July 19, 2000; revised February 29, 2001. This work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), the State of Louisiana through the Board of Regents (Industrial Ties Program) and indirectly through the Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD), Baton Rouge, and Exxon Chemical Americas. Subject Editor W. N. Sharpe, Jr.


  • Forced air cooling
  • Mechanical seals
  • Microheat exchanger
  • Microheat sink
  • Thrust bearings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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