Improving Copper's Heat Conductance
As electronics shrink their heat problems grow and could eventually put a halt to shrinking components further. One possible solution for this issue is to change the materials being used within the electronics for ones with better heat conductance. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have recently discovered how a sandwich of graphene and copper could help address the heat problem.
Copper is currently used within computer chips as interconnects chips because of its electrical and thermal conductivity, but it may not be enough in the future. By placing a layer of copper between layers of graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon, its thermal conductivity increases significantly, much more than just the conductivity of graphene. The researchers found that the reason for the improved conductivity is that when growing the graphene on the copper by chemical vapor deposition, the microstructure of the copper changes. Apparently the graphene and high temperature causes the copper grains to grow, and this increases its heat conduction. The increase is even greater with thinner copper films.
Potentially this discovery could enable electronics to be manufactured at smaller scales before running into a thermal barrier. The researchers are also going to work create a more accurate model of how thermal conductivity relates to grain sizes.