11.09.19

Atomically thin electronics heatshield developed by researchers

Insulator-4-layers_withBlack
Image credit: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Researchers at the University of Stanford have developed a heatshield to protect temperature-sensitive components of electronic devices comprised of a few layers of atomically thin materials.

The team at Stanford used a layer of graphene and three other ‘sheet-like’ materials with a thickness of three atoms each to create a four-layered insulator with a depth of 10 atoms. 

The insulator works by dampening atomic heat vibrations, causing them to lose energy as they pass through each layer. 

Four layers of atomically thin materials with a thickness between two and three nanometres (50,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper) are stacked atop hot spots, providing the same insulation as a sheet of glass over 100 times thicker according to a statement by the University of Stanford. 

In a statement, the University claimed that: “In the near term, thinner heat shields will enable engineers to make electronic devices even more compact than those we have today.” 

However, to make the nanoscale heat shields viable for the wider market, the researchers intend to find a mass production technique to spray or deposit the atom-thin layers of materials onto electronic components during the manufacturing process, with the aim of controlling the vibrational energy inside the materials similarly to the way electricity and light can be controlled. 

Eric Pop, leader of the research group in electrical engineering, Stanford University said: “As engineers, we know quite a lot about how to control electricity, and we’re getting better with light, but we’re just starting to understand how to manipulate the high-frequency sound that manifests itself as heat at the atomic scale.”