DCN Corp - Innovative thinkers with ethical societal practice... our mission

University of Buffalo, The State University of New York - Staying cool in the nano-electric universe by getting hot

DCN Corp® - A University of Buffalo (UoB) study postulates that to make laptops and other portable electronic devices more robust, that more heat may be required. So, the UoB study seeks to squeeze nano-conductors into an electrical current via a narrow channel, thus, increasing the amount of heat circulating through a microchip's nano-transistor. Credit - Jon Bird and Jong HanResearchers in the USA have provided an insight into how nano-devices in micro-circuits could protect themselves from heat generation as well as boosting computing power without a need for large-scale changes to electronics

Fortunately as modern day technology becomes even more miniaturised and sophisticated, the potential for heat overload when being employed may also increase. Negatively this is a rapidly emerging issue, because it can cause the electronics inside the gadgets/mobiles to fail.

However, based on new research published at the University of Buffalo (UoB), New York, USA, there is a distinctive possibility of the opposite. In other words, to make laptops and other portable electronic devices more robust, than more heat may be the answer.

As explained by Professor Jonathan Bird at the UoB Department of Electrical Engineering as well as a member of the department's solid-state electronics research group - "We've found that it's possible to protect nano-electronic devices from the heat they generate in a way that preserves how these devices function,"

Furthermore, Professor Bird states - "This will hopefully allow us to continue developing more powerful smartphones, tablets and other devices without having a fundamental meltdown in their operation due to overheating."

Typically heat in electronic devices is generated by the movement of electrons through transistors, resistors and other elements of an electrical network. Dependent on the network, there are a variety of means, such as cooling fans and heat sinks, which can prevent the circuits from overheating.

However, as more integrated circuits and transistors are included in devices to ultimately boost their computing power, unfortunately, it is becoming more difficult to keep the elements cool. So for that reason most nano-electric research centres are focussing on developing advanced materials, which are capable of withstanding the extreme environment inside smartphones, laptops and other devices. Whilst hype has been ripe about the potential of advanced materials, the UoB research demonstrates that there is still capacity within the existing status quo of electronic devices to continue developing more powerful computers.

In seeking to prove their findings, the researchers fabricated nanoscale semiconductor devices in a state-of-the-art Gallium Arsenide crystal supplied to UoB by Sandia's Reno. Subsequently the researchers subjected the chip to a large voltage, by squeezing an electrical current through the nano-conductors, which increased the amount of heat circulating through the chip's nano-transistor. Based on such a regime rather then degrading the device, the nano-transistor managed to transform itself into a quantum state, which was protected from the effect of heating and so meant that it provided a robust channel of electric current. To help clarify, Bird offered an analogy as to the Niagara Falls - "The water, or energy, comes from a source; in this case, the Great Lakes. It's channelled into a narrow point (the Niagara River) and ultimately flows over Niagara Falls.  At the bottom of waterfall is dissipated energy. But unlike the waterfall, this dissipated energy recirculated throughout the chip and changes how heat affects, or in this case doesn't affect, the network's operation."

Though such behaviour may be extremely unusual, in terms of conceptualising water flowing over a waterfall, it is a direct result of the quantum mechanical nature of electronics when observed on the nanoscale. Essentially the current is made up of electrons which organise to form a narrow conducting filament through the nano-conductor, and so it is this filament that is so robust against the effects of heating.

A contributor who helped develop the theoretical models, which explain the findings, Han stated - "We're not actually eliminating the heat, but we've managed to stop it from affecting the electrical network.  In a way, this is an optimisation of the current paradigm," Original article available here

Please Note the results to the research have been published in Nature Nanotechnology 9, 101-105 (2014).

As with other USA studies, the research, above, clearly demonstrates the great potential of nanotechnology. As an alternative means to manufacture micro-circuits - DCN Corp strongly believes it can compete. Going forward, if you and/or your colleagues are interested in making DCN Corp's alternative process reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.