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Graphene: Thermal Conductivity Of Film Helps Cool Electronics

First Posted: Jul 10, 2015 03:26 PM EDT

New findings published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials reveal a new graphene-based film that works to efficiently cool electronics.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology created a film with thermal conductivity capacity that is four times that of copper. Furthermore, compared to typical characteristics of graphene, the new film is attachable to electronic components and made of silicon.

It's not difficult for an electronic device made today to easily become overheated, typically from the ever-increasing demand for functionality. However, keeping excess heat in account is imperative in prolonging electronic lifespan, which may lead to a considerable reduction in energy usage.

It was just a few years ago that researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology discovered that grapheme can hold a cooling effect on silicon-based electronics, prompting new studies on the cooling of silicon-based electronics that incorporate graphene.

"But the methods that have been in place so far have presented the researchers with problems", Johan Liu, a professor at the university, said in a news release. "It has become evident that those methods cannot be used to rid electronic devices off great amounts of heat, because they have consisted only of a few layers of thermal conductive atoms. When you try to add more layers of graphene, another problem arises, a problem with adhesiveness. After having increased the amount of layers, the graphene no longer will adhere to the surface, since the adhesion is held together only by weak van der Waals bonds."

"We have now solved this problem by managing to create strong covalent bonds between the graphene film and the surface, which is an electronic component made of silicon," he added.

Researchers then tested several additives, with an addition of (3-Aminopropyl) triethoxysilane (APTES) molecules holding the most desired effect. Then, when heated, they were put through hydrolysis to create so-called silane bonds between the electronic component and the graphene.

Researchers noted how functionalization with the help of silane coupling actually doubles thermal conductivity of the graphene. And now, they have shown that the in-plane thermal conductivity of the graphene-based film, with 20 micrometer thickness, can reach a thermal conductivity value of 1600 W/mK, which is four times that of copper.

"Increased thermal capacity could lead to several new applications for graphene," concluded Johan Liu. "One example is the integration of graphene-based film into microelectronic devices and systems, such as highly efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), lasers and radio frequency components for cooling purposes. Graphene-based film could also pave the way for faster, smaller, more energy efficient, sustainable high power electronics."

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