A breakthrough in conducting heat for electronics
Hello everybody! I just wanted to post today to let you know about some exciting news from the Nanotechnology team. We’ve recently been working under a DARPA contract and have developed and demonstrated a prototype phase-change based thermal materials system that conducts heat much better than copper. As a background, copper has been the preferred material used to cool electronics since the dawn of the electronics age. So, what does this new development mean exactly?
Well, we’ve developed a thermal materials system that could be used in high-speed electronics that will help better keep those electronics from overheating. Less overheating means that you can get more power from your gadgets. Imagine more advanced radar systems, better aviation and marine electronic control systems, and the icing on the cake—faster laptops!
As electronics become more advanced, we are approaching the point where conventional materials like copper simply can’t take the heat. For computing to go faster and electronic systems to become more capable, better cooling solutions will be needed to allow this to happen.
The thermal materials system works when applied to computer chips and a variety of different electronic components. It takes the heat generated in the electronic systems and spreads that heat out to keep them cool.
In demonstrations, the prototype system has functioned effectively in a variety of electronics and application environments. We also subjected it to harsh conditions during testing and found it could successfully operate in extremely high gravity applications. More specifically, the prototype has operated in conditions that simulate more than 10 times the normal force of gravity! By comparison, this gravity force is more than four times greater than what someone would experience on the Mission Space ride at Disney. Do you think you could run at the same speed when feeling the 10x the normal weight of gravity? Most likely not; but our prototype can.
Attached is an infographic that helps to explain some of the key components of this prototype system. Currently it has more than twice the thermal conductivity and can operate at 10 times normal gravity – we are working on to further push up these performances Another unique property is that it is one-fourth the weight of copper! All of these properties combined make it an attractive option for a variety of different systems ranging from personal laptops to the sophisticated avionics and electronic control systems that operate a 747 aircraft.