Cool-headed boffins overcome sticky issue: Graphene-based film could turn heat down

'Hot, hot, titchy electronic gizmos? We got this'

This is graphene-based film on an electronic component with high heat intensity. Pic credit: Johan Liu / Chamers University of Technology
Graphene-based film on an electronic component with high heat intensity.
Pic credit: Johan Liu / Chamers University of Technology

A graphene-based film could help to cool down overheating microelectronic devices, scientists have claimed in a new study.

Researchers at Chalmers University, led by professor Johan Liu, have developed the 20 micrometre-thick film, which apparently has a thermal conductivity capacity of 1,600 W/mK – four times that of copper.

Better still, the boffins explained in their paper, which was recently published in the Advanced Functional Materials journal, that they had found a way of successfully attaching the film to silicon-based electronic components.

Over to prof Liu:

It has become evident that those methods [cooling of electronic components made of silicon by using graphene] 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.

The boffins at Chalmers played around with several different additives before discovering that an addition of (3-Aminopropyl) triethoxysilane (APTES) molecules had created suitable silane bonds between the graphene and electronic component.

"Increased thermal capacity could lead to several new applications for graphene," Liu said.

"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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