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Better Cooling with Graphene Films

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:05AM

Heat is a big problem for our electronics that only increases as you scale things up, to the point that half the power used by some server farms is just for cooling. Naturally then, many efforts are being made to more efficiently cool electronics, including some involving graphene. The issue graphene though has been that thicker films, which conduct heat better, will detach from chips more easily, but researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have found a solution.

Graphene is considered a wonder material and has many special properties, including great conductivity and a single layer being two dimensional. The issue with graphene here is that thicker films are better at conducting heat away, but only the ultrathin films will adhere to the silicon chips using van der Waals forces, a relatively weak force. Making the film thicker causes the bonds to break, making the film useless for conducting heat away. The Chalmers solution though is to functionalize the graphene surface by adding a molecule to it that will create stronger, covalent bonds with the silicon. These bonds can easily support the weight of a thicker graphene film.

A graphene film just 20 micrometers thick can have four times the thermal conductivity of copper, so imagine the possibilities of that interface between a chip and larger cooling system. Integrating graphene onto the chip could also open the doors to other uses, like adding LEDs, lasers, and other components to improve cooling even more.

Source: Chalmers University of Technology

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