Wednesday, 20 April 2011

An Incredible Discovery: Graphene Transistors Self-Cool

Graphene is an unusual single-atom thick carbon semiconductor.

Researchers measured the heat of a graphene transistor for the first time using atomic force microscopy.

The results were surprising -- the material significantly self-cools.

Future computers may not need a heat-sink -- their thermal electric properties result in net-cooling effect

Heat is a sad fact of life for current generation electronics.  Any Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry user can tell you that smartphones tend to get pretty hot at times.  And by today's standards a balmy 85 degrees Celsius, while hot enough to cook an egg, is a pretty "good" operating temperature for a high-powered PC graphics processing unit.

But that could all soon change, according to the results of a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois.  Examining graphene transistors, a team led by mechanical science and engineering professor William King and electrical and computer engineering professor Eric Pop made a remarkable discovery -- graphene appears to self-cool.

What is Graphene?
Graphene is somewhat like a miniature "fence" of carbon.  The material consists of a single-atom thick layer composed of hexagonal units.  At each point of the hexagon sits a carbon atom that is bonded to its three close neighbors.

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