Cutting edge technology could see water being used to cool the next generation of PC chips.

IBM has revealed that its scientists have managed to build a water cooling system into a 3D chip.

The prototype device is layered with thousands of "hair-width" cooling arteries, and these could be used to dissipate the increasing amount of heat pumped out by chips as they become smaller and more densely packed with components.

The heat is the by-product of the movement of electrons through the wires connecting the millions of components on a modern processor.

The BBC explains: "Each 4cm sq sandwich is just 1mm thick but pumps out close to 1kilowatt - 10 times that generated by a hotplate".

"As we package chips on top of each other ... we have found that conventional coolers attached to the back of a chip don't scale", Thomas Brunschwiler at IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory told the Beeb.

"In order to exploit the potential of high-performance 3D chip stacking, we need interlayer cooling."

IBM says that the technology could be in products within as little as 5 years.