Researchers from Rice University think they have a potential solution to one of the thorniest problems affecting electronics: Heat. As in getting the heat generated by those components out and away from them so they don’t fry.
In a new analysis, Rouzbeh Shahsavari, a Rice assistant professor and Navid Sakhayand, a former graduate student, think that a 3-D form of boron nitride, known as white graphene, combines the perfect qualities to keep electronics cool enough to keep functioning longer.
To back up a tad, graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms bonded together in a repeating latticework of hexagons. It can be extremely hard or very soft depending on how it’s constructed.
Boron Nitride in its 2-D sheet form looks just like regular graphene, except for one big difference. It is an insulator, meaning it does not conduct electricity, while graphene itself is a super-efficient conductor.
White graphene does, however, conduct heat. That means that engineers could build electronics that would route heat out and away from key components, even through various layers of material.
As Shahsavari told Rice University’s news service:
If there’s a way to combine 2-D layers of white graphene with 3-D nanotubes that burrow through the layers, heat can be transferred down and away to alleviate hot spots.
Shahsavari, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and of materials science and nanoengineering, told Rice that:
Graphene is already viewed as something of a miracle material that may end up replacing silicon as the foundation of electronics because of its electrical conductive qualities. Now with the white graphene variety, it could also serve so keep those electronics cool.
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