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New graphene-based film may keep your next laptop cool

"This is the first time that such systematic research has been done," said researcher Johan Liu.

By Brooks Hays
A new graphene film outfitted with functionalization molecules is able to more efficiently channel heat transfer. Photo by Chalmers University of Technology/Johan Liu/Philip Krantz/Krantz Nanoart
A new graphene film outfitted with functionalization molecules is able to more efficiently channel heat transfer. Photo by Chalmers University of Technology/Johan Liu/Philip Krantz/Krantz Nanoart

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, April 29 (UPI) -- As engineers squeeze electronics into smaller packages, it becomes increasingly hard to keep them cool. Enter functionalized graphene nanoflakes.

"Essentially, we have found a golden key with which to achieve efficient heat transport in electronics and other power devices by using graphene nanoflake-based film," Johan Liu, a professor of electronics production at Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology, said in a news release. "This can open up potential uses of this kind of film in broad areas, and we are getting closer to pilot-scale production based on this discovery."

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Researchers imbued the graphene-based film with functionalization molecules -- molecules that are added to material's surface to encourage various chemical and physical qualities. By adding amino-silane molecules, scientists were able to enhance the film's in-plane heat conduction.

When tested, the new film significantly lowered the temperatures measured at previously identified hotspots on an electronic chip.

"This is the first time that such systematic research has been done," said Liu. "The present work is much more extensive than previously published results from several involved partners and it covers more functionalization molecules and also more extensive direct evidence of the thermal contact resistance measurement."

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Researchers, who published their findings in the journal Nature Communications, said production of the film could soon be scaled up for use in electronics manufacturing.

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