Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New method for enhancing thermal conductivity could cool computer chips, lasers and other devices

15.12.2011
The surprising discovery of a new way to tune and enhance thermal conductivity – a basic property generally considered to be fixed for a given material – gives engineers a new tool for managing thermal effects in smart phones and computers, lasers and a number of other powereddevices.
The finding was made by a group of engineers headed by Deyu Li, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University, and published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology on Dec. 11.

Li and his collaborators discovered that the thermal conductivity of a pair of thin strips of material called boron nanoribbons can be enhanced by up to 45 percent depending on the process that they used to stick the two ribbons together. Although the research wasconducted with boron nanoribbons, the results are generally applicable to other thin film materials.

An entirely new way to control thermal effects
“This points at an entirely new way to control thermal effects that is likely to have a significant impact in microelectronics on the design of smart phones and computers, in optoelectronics on the design of lasers and LEDs, and in a number of other fields,” said Greg Walker, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt and an expert in thermal transport who was not directly involved in the research.

According to Li, the force that holds the two nanoribbons together is a weak electrostatic attraction called the van der Waals force. (This is the same force that allows the gecko to walk up walls.)

“Traditionally, it is widely believed that the phonons that carry heat are scattered at van der Waals interfaces, which makes the ribbon bundles’ thermal conductivity the same as that of each ribbon. What we discovered is in sharp contrast to thisclassical view. We show that phonons can cross these interfaces without being scattered, which significantly enhances the thermal conductivity,” said Li. In addition, the researchers found that they could control the thermal conductivity between a high and a low value by treating the interface of the nanoribbon pairs with different solutions.

The enhancement is completely reversible

One of the remarkable aspects of the effect Li discovered is that it is reversible. For example, when the researchers wetted the interface of a pair of nanoribbons with isopropyl alcohol, pressed them together and let them dry, the thermal conductivity was the same as that of a single nanoribbon. However, when they wetted them with pure alcohol and let them dry, the thermal conductivity was enhanced. Then, whenthey wetted them with isopropyl alcohol again, the thermal conductivity dropped back to the original low value.

“It is very difficult to tune a fundamental materials property such as thermal conductivity and the demonstrated tunable thermal conductivity makes the research especially interesting,” Walker said.

One of the first areas where this new knowledge is likely to be applied is in thermal management of microelectronic devices like computer chips. Today, billions to trillions of transistors are jammed into chips the size of a fingernail. These chips generate so much heat that one of the major factors in their design is to prevent overheating. In fact, heat management is one of the major reasons behind today’s multi-core processor designs.

“A better understanding of thermal transport across interfaces is the key to achieving better thermal management of microelectronic devices,” Li said.

Discovery may improve design of nanocomposites

Another area where the finding will be important is in the design of “nanocomposites” – materials made by embedding nanostructure additives such as carbon nanotubes to a host material such asvarious polymers – that are being developed for use in flexible electronic devices, structural materials for aerospace vehicles and a variety of other applications.

Collaborators on the study were post-doctoral research associate Juekan Yang, graduate students Yang Yang and Scott Waltermire from Vanderbilt; graduate students Xiaoxia Wu and Youfei Jiang, post-doctoral research associate Timothy Gutu, research assistant professorHaitao Zhang, and Associate Professor Terry T. Xu from the University of North Carolina; Professor Yunfei Chen from the Southeast University in China; Alfred A. Zinn from Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company; and Ravi Prasherfrom the U.S. Department of Energy.

The research was performed with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Lockheed Martin’s Engineering & Technology University Research Initiatives program and the Office of Naval Research.

Visit Research News @ Vanderbilt for more research news from Vanderbilt.

David F. Salisbury | Vanderbilt University
Further information:
http://www.vanderbilt.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Efficient time synchronization of sensor networks by means of time series analysis
24.01.2017 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

nachricht Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>