In this paper, we show that improved air circulation above a heat sink is possible using thin winglet-type vortex generators that can be passively retrofitted to an existing unit. By mounting these vortex generators on the leading edge of heat sink fins, pairs of counter-rotating vortices are induced within the interfin spacing. The vortices disturb the boundary layers and serve to mix the air in the interfin channel. The devices we have designed are passive and can be added to existing systems using a simple clip-on mechanism. In this study, several designs are experimentally investigated for the purpose of identifying the optimal configuration that will be most conducive to flow enhancement and, therefore, heat transfer augmentation. Using the typical operational range of air velocities for PCs, routers and servers, an experimental simulation of the interfin channel reveals that certain vortex generators, when placed upstream, can outperform others in their ability to fill the channel with pairs of strong vortices. Multiple pairs can also be generated to further accentuate the heat transfer using dual vortex generators. A description of the specific shapes is furnished here along with particulars of the performance study. By control and manipulation of the vortices, our results suggest the possibility of optimizing the generator design. Experimentation was conducted in two phases. The first phase is a study of the ability to generate and control vortices within the fin channel. This aspect was simulated using a Lexan mock-up of the fin channel that permits introduction of glycerin smoke to visualize the shape, size, strength and structure of the vortices. The clear Lexan permitted viewing of the vortices by passing a red planar laser through the apparatus. The second phase involved using the optimization data gained in the first phase to generate vortices in an actual heat sink fitted with thermocouples to measure the temperatures at various points during heating.

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