Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Staying cool in the nanoelectric universe by getting hot

Date:
January 21, 2014
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
As smartphones, tablets and other gadgets become smaller and more sophisticated, the heat they generate while in use increases. This is a growing problem because it can cause the electronics inside the gadgets to fail.

A University at Buffalo study hints that, to make laptops and other portable electronic devices more robust, more heat might be the answer. Here, nanoconductors squeeze an electrical current into a narrow channel, increasing the amount of heat circulating through a microchip’s nanotransistor.
Credit: Jon Bird and Jong Han

As smartphones, tablets and other gadgets become smaller and more sophisticated, the heat they generate while in use increases. This is a growing problem because it can cause the electronics inside the gadgets to fail.

Conventional wisdom suggests the solution is to keep the guts of these gadgets cool. But a new University at Buffalo research paper hints at the opposite: that is, to make laptops and other portable electronic devices more robust, more heat might be the answer. "We've found that it's possible to protect nanoelectronic devices from the heat they generate in a way that preserves how these devices function," said Jonathan Bird, UB professor of electrical engineering. "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."

The paper, "Formation of a protected sub-band for conduction in quantum point contacts under extreme biasing," was published Jan. 19 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Bird is the co-lead author along with Jong Han, UB associate professor of physics. Contributing authors are Jebum Lee and Jungwoo Song, both recently earned PhDs at UB; Shiran Xiao, PhD candidate at UB; and John L. Reno, Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at Sandia National Laboratories.

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

But as more integrated circuits and transistors are added to devices to boost their computing power, it's becoming more difficult to keep those elements cool. Most research centers on developing advanced materials that are capable of withstanding the extreme environment inside smartphones, laptops and other devices.

While advanced materials show tremendous potential, the UB research suggests there may still be room within the existing paradigm of electronic devices to continue developing more powerful computers.

To achieve their findings, the researchers fabricated nanoscale semiconductor devices in a state-of-the-art gallium arsenide crystal provided to UB by Sandia's Reno. The researchers then subjected the chip to a large voltage, squeezing an electrical current through the nanoconductors. This, in turn, increased the amount of heat circulating through the chip's nano transistor.

But instead of degrading the device, the nanotransistor spontaneously transformed itself into a quantum state which was protected from the effect of heating and provided a robust channel of electric current. To help explain, Bird offered an analogy to Niagara Falls. "The water, or energy, comes from a source; in this case, the Great Lakes. It's channeled 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 recirculates throughout the chip and changes how heat affects, or in this case doesn't affect, the network's operation."

While this behavior may seem unusual, especially conceptualizing it in terms of water flowing over a waterfall, it is the direct result of the quantum mechanical nature of electronics when viewed on the nanoscale. The current is made up of electrons which spontaneously organize to form a narrow conducting filament through the nanoconductor. It is this filament that is so robust against the effects of heating.

"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 optimization of the current paradigm," said Han, who developed the theoretical models which explain the findings.

The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Lee, J. E. Han, S. Xiao, J. Song, J. L. Reno, J. P. Bird. Formation of a protected sub-band for conduction in quantum point contacts under extreme biasing. Nature Nanotechnology, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2013.297

Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Staying cool in the nanoelectric universe by getting hot." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121104111.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2014, January 21). Staying cool in the nanoelectric universe by getting hot. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121104111.htm
University at Buffalo. "Staying cool in the nanoelectric universe by getting hot." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121104111.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins