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Graphene efficiently cools electronics

Posted: 05 Jul 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Graphene  electronics  Chalmers University of Technology  hotspots 

Graphene has a heat dissipating effect on silicon based electronics, claims a group of researchers, headed by Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology. According to the researchers, a layer of graphene can reduce the working temperature in hotspots inside a processor by up to 25 per cent, significantly extending the working life of computers and other electronics.

“This discovery opens the door to increased functionality and continues to push the boundaries when it comes to miniaturising electronics,” said Chalmers Professor Johan Liu, who heads the international research project.

Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, is stronger than steel yet lightweight and flexible. Electrons flow far more quickly through graphene than silicon. It is also a transparent electrical conductor that combines electrical and optical properties in an exceptional way. Graphene is a very good thermal conductor, ten times better than copper.

Modern electronic systems generate a great deal of heat, above all due to the constantly increasing demand for more and more functionality. It is important to be able to remove the heat generated in an efficient way to maintain the long life of the system. One rule of thumb is that a 10-degree Celsius increase in working temperature halves the working life of an electronics system.

The researchers focused on reducing the temperature in the small area where the electronics work most intensively – such as inside a processor, for instance. These tiny hotspots are found in all electronics. Size wise, they are on a micro or nano scale, in other words a thousandth of a millimetre or smaller.

“The normal working temperature in the hotspots we have cooled with a graphene layer has ranged from 55 to 115 degrees Celsius. We have been able to reduce this by up to 13 degrees, which not only improves energy efficiency, it also extends the working life of the electronics.”

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