Troy, N.Y. A team of interdisciplinary researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a new method for significantly increasing the heat transfer rate across two different materials. Results of the team's study, published in the journal Nature Materials, could enable new advances in cooling computer chips and lighting-emitting diode (LED) devices, collecting solar power, harvesting waste heat, and other applications.
By sandwiching a layer of ultrathin "nanoglue" between copper and silica, the research team demonstrated a four-fold increase in thermal conductance at the interface between the two materials. Less than a nanometeror one billionth of a meterthick, the nanoglue is a layer of molecules that form strong links with the copper (a metal) and the silica (a ceramic), which otherwise would not stick together well. This kind of nanomolecular locking improves adhesion, and also helps to sync up the vibrations of atoms that make up the two materials which, in turn, facilitates more efficient transport of heat particles called phonons. Beyond copper and silica, the research team has demonstrated their approach works with other metal-ceramic interfaces.
Heat transfer is a critical aspect of many different technologies. As computer chips grow smaller and more complex, manufacturers are constantly in search of new and better means for removing excess heat from semiconductor devices to boost reliability and performance. With photovoltaic devices, for example, better heat transfer leads to more efficient conversion of sunlight to electrical power. LED makers are also looking for ways to increase efficiency by reducing the percentage of input power lost as heat. Ganapati Ramanath, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer, who led the new study, said the ability to enhance and optimize interfacial thermal conductance should lead to new innovations in these and other applications.
|Contact: Michael Mullaney|
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute