Graphene chips will self-cool

Following the Nobel prize awarded to two Russian scientists at Manchester University for their work in discovering the properties of graphene, it is widely known that the material exhibits some potentially staggering properties.

For example, the material, can be formed into one atom-thick layers that have properties such as being 100 times stronger than steel and the ability to conduct electricity faster than silicon.

Now scientists have found another surprising benefit of the material that could help bring about revolutionary computer chips, with grapehene being able to cool itself, preventing overheating.

This is of course a major problem for computers which expend a massive amount proportion of their power in just making sure that the ‘resistive heat’, essentially the heat generated as electrons collide within a material, is cooled with fans or flowing water.

In silicon this resistive heating effect outweighs other thermoelectric cooling effects that it displays, meaning that current electronic devices need to incorporate the space for cooling equipment in their designs.

However, researchers at the University of Illinois how shown that graphene shows much stronger cooling effects on its own which could mean that chips in the future will not need to be cooled at all – as the material handily performs that function itself.

Using an atomic force microscope tip as a temperature probe the scientists were for the first time able to reveal more about the thermoelectric properties of graphene, which have so far eluded scientists due to the tiny dimensions involved, according to well-named Professor Eric Pop.

Pop also highlighted the fact that knowledge of graphene is still in its infancy with regards to thermoelectric properties, but insists that “measurements and simulations project that thermoelectric effects will become enhanced as graphene transistor technology and contacts improve”.

Overall the news of the team’s uncovering of new properties in grapehene shows that despite the leap made by the Nobel prize winners, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, there is plenty of exciting work ahead in making graphene into a viable tool for the future of electronics.