Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Degree Level



Mechanical Engineering


Hu, Han

Committee Member/Reader

Nutter, Darin


Lightweight and affordable cooling capabilities are critical as the physical scale of electronics continues to decrease. Air-cooled heat sinks that dissipate heat from electronic components to the surrounding air are excellent candidates to fill this role. While plate-fin and pin-fin heat sinks have been implemented extensively for electronic cooling, recent advances in additive manufacturing enable the fabrication of more complex structures. In this undergraduate Honors thesis, a means by which to generate novel heat sink geometries is presented. To that end, an experimental characterization facility is developed to evaluate existing traditional heat sinks. The heat transfer performance of the heat sinks is experimentally examined using a test vehicle consisting of a 3D-printed wind tunnel, a film heater, a variable speed fan, and the data acquisition unit. Heat sinks are placed within the facility and are heated by a heating element at the base of the system. Air is pulled by a fan through the tunnel across the heat sink while measurements of air velocity, temperature, and pressure are taken throughout. These measurements allow for the calculation of metrics quantifying the heat transfer performance of each heat sink such as the heat transfer coefficient, thermal resistance, and Nusselt number. Three commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) heat sinks are assessed and compared. Further, a numerical simulation model is developed to validate the results from the physical test setup. Generative design algorithms are implemented to couple the outputs of the computational simulations to the geometry of the heat sink. One iteration of the presented field-driven design procedure is completed for each of the three selected heat sinks and the final geometries evaluated using the numerical model and compared to their original counterparts.


heat sinks, field-driven design, computational fluid dynamics