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Graphene gets even cooler

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July 3, 2013

Researchers have found that a layer of graphene can keep electronic component hotspots up ...

Researchers have found that a layer of graphene can keep electronic component hotspots up to 25 percent cooler

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For a two-dimensional material, graphene is certainly punching above its weight in terms of potential applications. Already set to enable faster, stronger and foldable electronic devices, researchers claim that the single layer lattice of carbon atoms can also help keep electronic components up to 25 percent cooler, giving it the potential to significantly extend the working life of computers and other electronic devices.

An international team of researchers led by Professor Johan Liu at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden found that a layer of graphene is able to significantly reduce the temperature in the tiny areas where the electronics work most intensively and therefore generate the most heat. Removing heat from these hotspots, which are found in all electronics and are on a micro or nano scale, is important in improving the working life of electronic devices.

One general rule of thumb given by the researchers is that a 10° C (18° F) increase in working temperature equates to a halving of the working life of an electronics system. Dissipating this heat also takes energy, as evidenced by a 2007 report (PDF) from the EPA estimating that around 50 percent of energy consumed by data centers in the US in 2006 went to cooling. So graphene's ability to passively cool electronic devices could deliver huge energy savings.

“The normal working temperature in the hotspots we have cooled with a graphene layer has ranged from 55 to 115° C (131 to 239° F),” says Professor Liu. “We have been able to reduce this by up to 13° C (23° F), which not only improves energy efficiency, it also extends the working life of the electronics.”

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Shanghai University in China and Swedish company SHT Smart High Tech AB participated in the research, which has been published in the journal Carbon.

Source: Chalmers University of Technology

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
9 Comments

I want some graphene on my CPU's.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
4th July, 2013 @ 06:08 am PDT

Whoever came up with "25 % cooler" needs to revisit physics and thermodynamics 101. When you are dealing with temperatures you have to work with ABSOLUTE scale, Kelvin. 0 degree Celsius is 274 degrees Kelvin. 13 in absolute terms does not even amount to 3.5 - 4 %.

pmshah
4th July, 2013 @ 06:33 am PDT

pmshah, methinks thou protesteth too much. While the percentage figures may not have been accurate, passive cooling of 13 degrees C is still quite significant. As mentioned in another message, I think I'd like to have a bit of graphene cooling for the electronics I use.

edjudy
4th July, 2013 @ 10:12 am PDT

@pmshah - they make a common non-scientist mistake: they are referring to 25% reduction in temperature deviance. So if the circuit deviates from room temperature by +40 degrees without grapheme, with grapheme the deviance will only be +30 degrees (which, as you point out, NOT 25% cooler). I wonder if the day will come when journalists who report on science will actually take some courses in science, and learn the lingo. Sigh.

TGinNC
4th July, 2013 @ 10:44 am PDT

I was about to say the same thing as pmshah but he beat me to it. If you use the method in this article and change to Fahrenheit you'll get a completely different answer and if you get into minus temperatures the whole calculation turns to nonsense. So you must work in Kelvin for calcs like this.

Anyway the article says nothing about how the cooling technique works which I would have thought was the prime focus.

warren52nz
4th July, 2013 @ 02:00 pm PDT

All "cool" points made by reader. Glad we have people that understand science reading the site. Keeps the writers and the mag. on it toes.

S Michael
4th July, 2013 @ 08:22 pm PDT

10g of graphene costs nearly a thousand bucks.

http://www.acsmaterial.com/

graphene nanoparticles are $15 a GRAM.

We might be waiting a while for this stuff to become economical...

nutcase
4th July, 2013 @ 11:04 pm PDT

re; warren52nz

Graphite is a very good thermal conductor even in a single layer called graphene. Therefor the graphene increases the speed at which heat moves through the components sucking the heat out of the hot spots and spreading it through the component which effectively increases the radiant surface area.

Slowburn
5th July, 2013 @ 12:15 am PDT

"Dissipating this heat also takes energy, as evidenced by a 2007 report (PDF) from the EPA estimating that around 50 percent of energy consumed by data centers in the US in 2006 went to cooling. So graphene's ability to passively cool electronic devices could deliver huge energy savings."

"Removing heat from these hotspots, which are found in all electronics and are on a micro or nano scale"

This method does not transfer the heat very far. You still have to get it out of the device/system/building.

chemical vapor deposited (CVD) diamond is also being used and may have the advantage of not being electrically conductive.

Intellcity
9th July, 2013 @ 08:51 pm PDT
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