Processors with nanomaterials will allow manufacturers to spend less effort on their cooling

Written By O. Love

But this will have to wait

Scientists have found that nanowires made from a particular isotope of silicon can conduct heat 150% better than regular silicon, which could lead to cooler computer chips.

Most – about 92 percent – of silicon already exists in the form of Si-28, five percent is Si-29, and the remaining three percent is Si-30. In a computer chip, these isotopes perform the same general electronic functions.

The team placed a Si-28 nanowire just 90 nanometers wide between two microheaters and applied an electric current to one of them so that the generated heat would pass through the nanowire and into the other.

The scientists expected the improvement in thermal conductivity to be in the range of 20 percent, but much to their surprise, it turned out to be 150 percent better than with natural silicon nanowires.

Upon closer examination, it turned out that a layer of silicon dioxide had formed on the outer side of the nanowire, which effectively smoothed out the normally rough heat-dissipating surface. Inside, due to the absence of defects in other isotopes, heat passed through the core of the nanowire, the scientists said.

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