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  Remember "Piezo" Fans? What Happened to Them? 
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john albrich Mar 09, 2012, 01:43pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Mar 09, 2012, 01:49pm EST

Replies: 2 - Views: 3128
Anyone remember the big promises of revolutionizing electronics cooling with piezo-electric fans? (note: this is NOT thermo-electric/peltier cooling blocks).

What happened to them, and why aren't they being used in small devices like routers, external 2.5" disk drives, WiFi USB adapters, etc, where heat is a known problem and standard cheap crappy rotating blade micro-fans always fail or are just too big/noisy?

As I recall, they promised decent airflow for their size/power, low-ish noise, low-ish cost, and very high reliability.

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Dr. Peaceful Mar 09, 2012, 03:58pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Remember "Piezo" Fans? What Happened to Them?
From this old article:

"Challenges for the Piezo Industry

One of the main technical challenges for enabling the piezoelectric technology in the electronics products is the high operating voltage (> 100 V) required to drive the conventional piezos. However, the voltage can be significantly reduced by implementing the so called “multiple layers” piezoelectric fan concept. The multiple piezoelectric layers are connected electrically in parallel. Fundamentally it is possible to reduce the voltage for the same amplitude proportionally with the number of layers; however, manufacturing issues (i.e., thickness of the electrode) may be limiting this voltage reduction. The multilayer technology may also be used to reduce the length of the piezoelectric actuator and get the same amplitude as a longer one.

Although the multilayer piezo technology is used in other applications, it is not yet applied to electronics cooling due to some key material science issues, yield and reliability, which are not specifically addressed. Some preliminary data, based on accelerated tests using voltage and frequency as variable parameters, show no potential show stoppers, but more data needs to be collected for all other reliability requirements. It is hoped that the piezo industry may form interdisciplinary teams of materials, thermal and mechanical engineers to focus on the above issues."

I guess that's the reason it's not widely used yet. Personally, I don't think air flow generated by pieces of flapping metals (or whatever material) is any better than a rotating fan. I think the Electrohydrodynamic Ionic Wind Pumps is a better concept than Piezoelectric Fan. See here:

angryhippy Mar 12, 2012, 06:12am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Remember "Piezo" Fans? What Happened to Them?
They started rooting for a different team!

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