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2, JUNE 2008

Shape Optimization of Micro-Channel Heat

Sink for Micro-Electronic Cooling
Afzal Husain and Kwang-Yong Kim

Abstract—A numerical investigation of 3-D fluid flow and heat Coolant flow rate.
transfer in a rectangular micro-channel has been carried out using Re Reynolds number.
water as a cooling fluid in a silicon substrate. Navier–Stokes and
energy equations for laminar flow and conjugate heat transfer are Thermal resistance.
solved using a finite volume solver. Solutions are first carefully Convective resistance.
validated with available analytical and experimental results; the
shape of the micro-channel is then optimized using surrogate Adjusted value of R square.
methods. Ratios of the width of the micro-channel to the depth Temperature.
and the width of the fin to the depth are selected as design vari-
ables. Design points are selected through a four-level full factorial Liquid velocity in micro-channel.
design. A single objective function thermal resistance, formulated Velocity vector.
using pumping power as a constraint, is optimized. Mass flow rate
is adjusted by the constant pumping power constraint. Response Micro-channel width.
surface approximation, Kriging, and radial basis neural network Fin width.
methods are applied to construct surrogates and the optimum
point is searched by sequential quadratic programming. Orthogonal coordinate system.
Index Terms—Electronic cooling, micro-channel, numerical sim- Greek Symbols
ulation, optimization, surrogate methods.
Normalized design variables, and ,
NOMENCLATURE Micro-channel aspect ratio.
Cross section area of micro-channel. Density.
Surface area of substrate base. Dynamic viscosity.
Specific heat. Kinematic viscosity.
Hydraulic diameter. Subscripts
Friction factor. Liquid.
Convective heat transfer coefficient. Inlet.
Height of heat sink. Outlet.
Micro-channel depth. Substrate.
Thermal conductivity. max Maximum value.
Entry length. avg Average value.
Length of heat sink.
Width of heat sink. I. INTRODUCTION
Height of heat sink.
Number of micro-channels. R ECENT developments in micro electromechanical sys-
tems (MEMS) and advanced very large-scale integration
(VLSI) technologies and devices associated with micro minia-
Number of dimensions in design space.
turization have led to significant improvement in packing
Pressure. densities. These developments have helped satisfy growing
Perimeter. demand for higher dissipation of heat flux from electronic
Pumping power. devices. However, it has been observed that operation of most
electronic devices is strongly influenced by their temperature
Heat flux.
and their surrounding thermal environment. Micro-channel
heat sink, as an integrated part of silicon based electronic
Manuscript received December 21, 2006; revised August 15, 2007. This work device, is a potential solution to this problem. Sophisticated
was recommended for publication by Associate Editor S. Bhavnani upon eval- fabrication processes have yielded economically competitive
uation of the reviewers comments. micro-channels having a high surface area to volume ratio.
The authors are with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Inha Uni-
versity, Incheon 402-751, Korea (e-mail: The potential of micro-channel heat sinks as heat transfer de-
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TCAPT.2008.916791 vices has motivated many researchers to analyze micro-cooling
1521-3331/$25.00 © 2008 IEEE

phenomena and conduct parametric studies. Tuckerman and

Pease [1] first realized the potential of this technology and
laid a foundation for silicon based micro-channel heat sink
experimentation. They experimented on a 56 m wide, 320 m
deep micro-channel fabricated by a chemical etching process.
Samalam [2] reported correlations for thermal resistance based
on a theoretical study of experiments of Tuckerman [3]. Fe-
dorov and Viskanta [4] carried out a numerical simulation
based on the experiments of Kawano et al. [5]. While numerous
investigations have been conducted using various techniques
[6]–[10], there are significant disparities between the existing
experimental data and the values predicted using classical
Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of micro-channel heat sink and design variables.
macro techniques [11].
The results of the aforementioned studies indicate that the
cross section parameters and fin width of the micro-channel can
thermal resistance of the micro-channel is then searched by
greatly influence the behavior of the fluid flow and resulting
sequential quadratic programming.
heat transfer capabilities of rectangular micro-channels [9],
[10], [12]. In addition, experimental investigations [1], [7], [9],
[10] reported a pressure drop in the convective heat transfer for II. PROBLEM DESCRIPTION AND GEOMETRIC CONSTRAINTS
water flowing in rectangular micro-channels of various aspect A schematic of the rectangular micro-channel heat
ratios. These results suggest that the aspect ratio is an important sink optimized in the current study is shown in Fig. 1.
parameter in the determination of flow friction and convective The dimensions of the heat sink under consideration are
heat transfer. 10 mm 10 mm 0.5 mm. The thickness of the base of the
Some analytical studies [13]–[15] have focused on modeling micro-channel is 100 m while the depth of the micro-channel
of the heat transfer and optimization of the micro-channel geom- is kept constant at 400 m. Simulations are performed
etry. Weisberg et al. [16] presented a design algorithm for the for varying fin width and channel width. A uniform heat flux
selection of a rectangular micro-channel heat exchanger using a ( 100 W/cm ) is applied at the bottom of the heat sink to
2-D conjugate heat transfer model. Qu and Mudawar [17] com- elucidate the effect of micro-channel geometry on the thermal
puted the 3-D fluid flow and heat transfer for a micro-channel resistance and friction factor. The flow is assumed to be lam-
with a rectangular cross section. Li et al. [18] numerically inves- inar and fully developed and is maintained by low flow rates
tigated 3-D conjugate heat transfer in a silicon based micro-heat and low Reynolds numbers. Since the focus of the study is to
sink. Toh et al. [19] carried out a detailed numerical study of optimize the microchannel geometry with surrogate analysis,
variation of local thermal resistance and friction factor along the thermodynamic and hydrodynamic properties of the substance
flow direction in micro-channels by solving 3-D Navier–Stokes are assumed to be constant with a reference temperature of
equations. They extended the length of the micro-channel to en- 27 C in all simulations.
sure realistic boundary conditions at the exit. As an attempt to One of the major challenges in micro-channel optimization is
optimize the shape of the micro-channel, Li and Peterson [20] manufacturing feasibility. The optimal design should not be im-
carried out a parametric study on the geometry of the micro- practical from manufacturing and design points of view. A sil-
channel. An exhaustive review of the literature, however, shows icon based micro-channel can be fabricated with an aspect ratio
that systematic optimization techniques have not yet been ap- of up to 20:1 using DRIE [23], [24] and 6:1 using
plied to this problem. KOH wet etching [1], [5], [24]. On the basis of strength, the
With the aid of high performance computers, the last decade constraint thickness of the base of the micro-channel is kept as
has witnessed rapid development of design optimization tech- 100 m, which is well above the minimum required thickness,
niques. Numerical optimization methods [21] are regarded as as suggested by Li and Peterson [20]. Li and Peterson [20] found
general design tools and offer a number of advantages, including that thermal resistance decreases with an increase in the aspect
automated design capability, varieties of constraints, and mul- ratio, and therefore is kept constant for all optimization cases
tidisciplinary applications. However, due to large computing in order to assess the effect of the micro-channel width and fin
time, coupling with Navier–Stokes analyses has recently proven width on the thermal resistance and friction factor. A constant
practical. Surrogate models are widely used in multidisciplinary pumping power is applied to the micro-channel heat sink, and
optimizations. Queipo et al. [22] reviewed various surrogate is defined as
based models used in aerospace applications.
The current investigation explores the application of surro- (1)
gate based optimization techniques for the shape optimization
of a rectangular micro-channel cross-section to minimize where is the volumetric flow rate across the heat sink and
thermal resistance. Response Surface Approximation (RSA), is the pressure drop. indicates the number of channels,
Kriging (KRG), and radial basis neural network (RBNN) is the average velocity, and is the cross-sectional area of the
methods are used to construct surrogates, and the minimum micro-channel.

Water flows into the micro-channel at the inlet of the heat

sink and leaves at the outlet; the remainder of the heat sink is
occupied by the silicon substrate. The silicon part of the heat
sink at the inlet and outlet of the channel is maintained as an
adiabatic boundary. No-slip condition is applied at the interior
walls of the channel, i.e., 0. Average velocity obtained by
the method described later in this section is used at the inlet
of the microchannel, and velocity gradients are neglected at the
exit. The thermal conditions in the z-direction are

Fig. 2. Computational domain.

The left and right surfaces in Fig. 2 are assigned as symmetric

III. NUMERICAL ANALYSIS boundary conditions.
Formulation of the average velocity in terms of pumping
In the present study, steady, incompressible, laminar flow
power is described as follows. Fanning friction is defined as
and conjugate heat transfer are considered with constant
fluid (water) properties (density 997 kg/m , spe-
cific heat capacity 4.179 J/kg K, dynamic viscosity
8.55 10 kg/ms, and thermal conductivity
0.613 W/mK at a reference temperature of 27 C). Continuum where is the hydraulic diameter. The Reynolds number in
equations for conservation of mass, momentum, and energy for terms of average velocity can be defined as
the convective heat transfer in the micro-channel can be written
in vector form as (7)

For a fully developed flow, Knight et al. [13] determined that

where represents the velocity vector, is the fluid temper-

ature, and and are the substrate temperature and thermal
conductivity, respectively. The average velocity can be obtained from (6), (7), and (8) as
A numerical model is formulated to solve the 3-D conjugate follows:
heat transfer in micro-channels using commercial code CFX
5.7 [25]. The code uses finite volume discretization of gov- (9)
erning differential equations and the solution is based on the
SIMPLE algorithm [26]. In the numerical solution, the con-
Substituting (1) into (9) we obtain
vective terms are discretized using a first-order upwind scheme
for all equations. Due to symmetry of the problem, half of the
single micro-channel is selected for computation, as shown in (10)
Fig. 2. A hexahedral mesh is generated in the specified domain
through ICEM 5.7 [25] and a 401 61 16 grid is used for
where the pumping power should be realistic and can be taken
the current simulation cases. Grid independency is checked by
as being in a range of 0.01 to 0.8 considering the capacity of
taking different grids: it was found that for a 501 71 21 grid
state-of-the-art micro pumps [14]. For comparison of the results
the change in the highest temperature in the substrate was only
with experimental data, the thermal resistance is calculated as
0.03% while for a 301 41 11 grid the difference in highest
temperature attained was roughly 2%. A finite volume solver is
used under the following boundary conditions. (11)

where is the area of the substrate subjected to heat flux and

is the maximum temperature rise in the heat sink and is
defined as


where is the substrate temperature near the outlet and

is the fluid inlet temperature. Thermal resistance at the inlet is
defined as

and at the outlet, thermal resistance is defined as

where and are the chip surface temperatures at the inlet

and outlet, respectively.


Fig. 3 represents the various steps involved in the optimiza-
tion algorithm. Design points are selected using a four-level full
Fig. 3. Optimization procedure.
factorial design. Two design variables, and , are chosen for
the optimization methodology, where is defined as
and is defined as . Hence, 16 design points chosen TABLE I
from four-level full factorial design assisted with 4 more de- DESIGN VARIABLES AND DESIGN SPACE
sign points are used to construct the surrogates. These levels
are equally spaced within the design range for all variables. De-
sign space is specified performing some preliminary calcula-
tions within the geometric constraints discussed in Section II
to obtain minimum of thermal resistance. The design space is
given in Table I. Design variables are normalized from 0 to 1
to construct surrogate models. Objective functions are calcu-
lated by solving Navier–Stokes and heat conduction equations The KRG model, also known as Kriging metamodelling [28],
at specified design points and optimized using surrogate models. is a deterministic technique for optimization. A linear polyno-
In the current study, thermal resistance is the foremost con- mial function with a Gauss correlation function is used for the
sideration for optimization and is the objective function for the model construction. The Kriging postulation is a combination
surrogate based optimization i.e., . of a global model and departures of the following form:
Three surrogate models, response surface approximation
(RSA), Kriging (KRG), and radial basis neural network (14)
(RBNN), are applied to predict the optimal design point. In
RSA [27], a least square curve fitting by regression analysis where represents the unknown function, is the known
is performed on the data obtained by computational fluid dy- function of , and is the realization of a stochastic process
namic (CFD) calculations using Navier–Stokes equations. The with mean zero and non-zero covariance. A linear function,
following polynomial function is fitted to obtain the response , is fitted first, and real points are interpolated on it to ob-
surface function. If the regression coefficients are ’s, the tain the mean zero. Here, is the global design space while
polynomial function becomes is the localized deviations. The covariance matrix can be
written as

where is the number of design variables, and ’s are the de- (15)
sign variables. For a second order polynomial model, used in
the current study, the number of regression constants is where is the number of dimensions in the set of design vari-
. ables is the standard deviation of the population, and is

the measure of degree of correlation among the data along the

direction .
A radial basis neural network (RBNN) [29] uses a linear com-
bination of n radially symmetric functions, , for the re-
sponse function as


where is the coefficients of the linear combination, g is the set

of radial basis functions (typically Gaussian), and is the set of
errors with equal variance, . Due to its linear nature, RBNN
has simpler mathematics and lower computational cost as com-
pared to back-propagation neural network (BPNN) [29]. RBNN
is a two layer network that consists of a hidden layer of the radial
basis function and a linear output layer. The design parameters
for this function are spread constant (SC) and a user defined
error goal (EG). The SC value is selected such that it should
not be so large that each neuron does not respond in the same
manner for the all inputs, and that it should not be so small that
the network becomes highly sensitive for every input within the
design space. EG or mean square error goal selection is also im-
portant. A very small error goal will produce over-training of the
network while a large error goal will affect the accuracy of the
model. The allowable error goal is decided from the allowable
error from the mean input responses. Cross-validation [22] is
performed to check the quality of constructed surrogates. These
surrogate methods are implemented using MATLAB [30].
Fig. 4. Comparison of numerically predicted fully developed velocity profiles
V. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION with analytical results: (a) on z middle plane and (b) on y middle plane.

The flow is assumed to be steady, incompressible, and fully

developed laminar flow. The velocity obtained from (10) is ap-
plied at the inlet of the micro-channel. In order to ensure a Kawano et al. [5]. Fig. 5 shows a comparison of the numeri-
fully developed flow, lower pumping power, 0.05 W, to cally calculated inlet thermal resistance and outlet thermal resis-
a 10 mm 10 mm chip has been chosen for the optimization tance with available experimental results [5] for a wide range of
cases. To validate the assumption of fully developed flow, the Reynolds number. The present results show appreciable agree-
entrance length is calculated for the micro-channel flow. For ment with the experimental results, with most of the predictions
a typical case of 0.15 and 0.1, the entrance length lying within the experimental uncertainties (indicated by error
is found to be 6% of the total channel length which is in good bars in the figure). The present model underpredicts the inlet
agreement with the relation developed by Langhaar [31] for flow thermal resistance only for a low Reynolds number. One of the
in a circular tube. possible reasons for this underprediction may be heat loss to
the ambient by the solid substrate, as discussed by Qu and Mu-
0.057 (17) dawar [17]. Moreover, the low Reynolds number conditions are
unreliable because of the larger temperature-induced viscosity
It is found that except the extreme case the entrance length is gradients near the inlet portion [5]. Further validation of the nu-
less than one fifth of the length of micro-channel heat sink, merical model is done with experimental results of Tuckerman
therefore assumption of fully developed flow is acceptable at and Pease [1] for three different cases of different channel depth
low pumping power [20]. The numerical model is validated in and heat flux, as given in Table II. In light of the numerical re-
a number of ways to ensure the accuracy of the numerical solu- production of these experimental results by Toh et al. [19] and
tions and the design optimization. Fig. 4 presents a comparison Liu et al. [8], the present model shows good agreement with the
of the numerical model with available analytical results [32] at experimental results, even for higher heat flux.
two different planes perpendicular to each other. Non-dimen- Before carrying out the actual optimization, the effect of
sional velocity profiles are plotted along the y and the design variables on the thermal resistance and friction
z directions, respectively. This comparison reveals good agree- constant is assessed. Figs. 6 and 7 show the variations of the
ment between the numerical and analytical results for the ve- thermal resistance and friction constant with changes in the
locity distribution in different directions. Experimental valida- design variables. Convective thermal resistance is defined
tion of the numerical results is done with the experiment of as 1 , where is the convective heat

Fig. 5. Comparison of numerical model predictions with experimental data: (a)

inlet thermal resistance and (b) outlet thermal resistance.

Fig. 6. Variation of (a) thermal resistance and (b) friction constant with design
TABLE II variable  .

pressure drop result in a decreased friction constant with an

increase of . For lower values of , where the flow resistance
is significant, an increase in further increases the flow re-
sistance, resulting in increased thermal resistance. For higher
values of , an increase in reduces pressure drop but increases
the velocity, which results in lower thermal resistance. For
intermediate values of , a decrease in the thermal resistance is
observed with an increase in up to a certain value, because
an increase in the fin thickness results in higher velocity, which
in turn results in higher convective heat transfer. A reduced
area subjected to convective heat transfer results from a further
increase in , and decreases convective heat transfer through
the micro-channel. A higher velocity reduces the friction factor
but results in a higher effective friction constant. It is natural
that the friction constant appears to be unaffected by any change
in the value of over the entire range of . An increase in
transfer coefficient. With an increase of , the average velocity pressure drop is countered by an increase in average velocity.
increases. Furthermore, the area subjected to convective heat The RSA, KRG, and RBNN surrogates are constructed using
transfer reduces as the number of micro-channels decreases the training data from a four-level full factorial design. Some
in a specified heat sink width for a constant under constant additional CFD data is added to enhance the performance of the
pumping power. Therefore, the thermal resistance decreases as surrogate models. The results of optimization of the thermal re-
is increased. This trend continues until the velocity dominates sistance using the surrogate models are shown in Table III. In the
the convective heat transfer and then the thermal resistance RSA method, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a regression
increases when the area subjected to convective heat transfer analysis, provided by t-statistics in [7], are implemented to mea-
is significantly reduced. The increased velocity and reduced sure the uncertainty in the set of coefficients in the polynomial.

Fig. 8. Sensitivity analysis of objective function F (thermal resistance) near the

optimal point.

The accuracy of the RBNN is checked by varying the error

goal and the spread constant in order to obtain the minimum
PRESS (Prediction Error Sum of Squares) for training data.
Prediction errors are calculated by cross-validation of the
constructed model predictions at the design points. In the
RBNN model, spread constant and error goals a set at 0.51
and 1 10 , respectively, to train the network. Consistent
performance of the network is checked with variation of the
spread constant. Objective function values are calculated at the
surrogate predicted optimal points, as shown in Table III. The
optimum values obtained by a Navier–Stokes analysis at the
design points predicted by all methods are almost identical.
RSA gives the optimum design as 0.671 0.430.
Fig. 7. Variation of (a) thermal resistance and (b) friction constant with design In contrast, the optimum design from the KRG and RBNN
variable .
models was 0.492 0.226 and 0.490 0.306,
respectively. The optimum design can help the designer find
TABLE III the design variables the geometry of his/her choice. For a
OPTIMAL POINTS (NORMALIZED) PREDICTED BY DIFFERENT SURROGATES micro-channel heat sink of channel depth 360 m, the
AND CORRESPONDING CFD CALCULATED VALUES adjusted number of channels for the optimum design calculated
from the RBF model is 120, which is in line with the findings
of Li and Peterson [20].
All the surrogate models under study predict almost same ob-
jective function value, although their predicted values of the de-
sign variables are different. Moreover, the CFD predicted objec-
tive function values are also very close. This characteristic of the
design space shows the relatively less sensitivity of the objective
function near the optimum point. Surrogate predictions depend
upon the nature and suitability of the problem, therefore each
In the present study, was maintained at 0.967, which can be surrogate predicts different optimum point. The use of multiple
considered reliable in reference to the value of 0.91 1.0 surrogates helps to understand the insight of the design space
suggested by Guinta [33] for accurate prediction of the response and suitability of the surrogate for the kind of problem under
surface model. The functional relationship between objective study.
function and design variables is established by RSA as A sensitivity analysis of the objective function is performed
by varying the design variables around the optimum design.
Each design variable is varied from the optimum point in both
(18) directions while keeping the other variables fixed. The objective
function values at these sets of design variables are calculated
The KRG model is prepared with the help of toolbox (DACE) using a surrogate model (typically RSA). The objective function
[34] in MATLAB. Correlation function parameters are adjusted (thermal resistance) increases sharply with a change in while
carefully to ensure consistent performance of the model. The keeping fixed. On the other hand, change of has a smaller
acceptable variance of the method was kept at 3.93 10 . effect on the objective function for a fixed , as shown in Fig. 8.

Fig. 10. Temperature contours on the middle y–z plane: (a) for [1] case and (b)
for optimum case.

thermal resistance of a micro-channel heat sink fabricated on

a silicon wafer is minimized for a constant heat source and
constant pumping power. Three different surrogate models, i.e.,
RSA, KRG, and RBNN, are employed for the optimization. De-
sign variables related to micro-channel depth and fin width are
selected to construct the surrogates, which are used to predict
the minimum of the objective function (thermal resistance of
the heat sink). The three surrogate models yielded somewhat
different optimum geometries, but predicted almost the same
objective function values. The objective function is found to be
more sensitive to channel width to depth ratio than fin width to
depth ratio around the optimal point.
Fig. 9. Temperature contours on the middle x–z plane: (a) for [1] case and (b)
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of silicon deep reactive ion etching,” Microelectron. Eng., vol. 67–68, Korea. He published more than 120 research pa-
pp. 349–355, 2003. pers in professional journals, and presented 76
[24] M. J. Madou, “MEMS Fabrication,” in MEMS Handbook, M. Gad-el- papers at international conferences and 156 pa-
Hak, Ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2002, vol. 16-1. pers at domestic conferences. He also published
[25] Solver Theory, CFX-5.7, ANSYS, 2004. 60 technical reports which were supported by a
[26] S. V. Patankar, Numerical Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow. New York: variety of research grants from government and
McGraw-Hill, 1980, pp. 124–134. industries, and has four domestic patents. He is presently the Editor-in-Chief
[27] R. H. Myers and D. C. Montgomery, Response Surface Method- of the Transactions of Korean Society of Mechanical Engineers (KSME). His
ology: Process and Product Optimization Using Designed Experi- recent research works have been concentrated on applications of numerical
ments. New York: Wiley, 1995. optimization techniques using computational fluid dynamics (especially the
[28] J. D. Martin and T. W. Simpson, “Use of Kriging models to approx-
three-dimensional Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes analysis techniques) to
imate deterministic computer models,” AIAA J., vol. 43, no. 4, pp.
853–863, 2005. designs of engineering systems or devices, such as heat transfer augmentation
[29] M. J. L. Orr, “Introduction to Radial Basis Function Networks,” Ctr. devices, components of thermal-hydraulics system in various nuclear reactors,
Cogn. Sci., Edinburgh Univ., Edinburgh, U.K., 1996 [Online]. Avail- turbomachinery blades, micro-mixers, micro heat sinks, etc., where the use of
able: numerical optimization techniques was not popular.
[30] The Language of Technical Computing, Release 14. The Math Works, Dr. Kim is Chief Vice President of the Korean Fluid Machinery Association
Inc., 2007. (KFMA).