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Modified Graphene Found to Dissipate Electronics Heat

Graphene molecular illustration (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Graphene molecular illustration (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Researchers in the U.S., Korea, and China have discovered a modified form of the material graphene with better thermal properties than graphene in its natural state. The team led by Alexander Balandin, an engineering professor at University of California – Riverside, published its findings online in the journal Nature Materials (paid subscription required).

The researchers from Riverside, as well as University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at Dallas, Seoul National University in Korea, and Xiamen University in China, have shown that isotopically engineered graphene has superior thermal properties compared to those of graphene in its natural state. Graphene is a single-atom thick carbon crystal with unique characteristics, including enhanced electrical and heat conductivity, mechanical strength, and optical absorption.

Graphene and other naturally occurring carbon materials are about 99 percent 12C (referred to as carbon 12) and 1 percent 13C (called carbon 13). The difference between the isotopes is in the atomic mass of the carbon atoms. The removal of just about 1 percent of carbon 13, also called isotopic purification, modifies the dynamic properties of crystal lattices in graphene and affects their thermal conductivity. The research used a thermal conductivity measuring technique developed by Balandin.

Thermal conductivity is a critical issue in the electronics industry where increased levels of power generate heat that is dissipated as devices become smaller and smaller. Thus, materials that conduct heat well have become essential for new integrated circuits and three-dimensional electronics. Balandin expects the new graphene to be used first in interface materials for chip packaging, transparent electrodes in photovoltaic solar cells, or flexible displays.

“Isotopically pure graphene can become an excellent choice for many practical applications,” says Balandin, “provided that the cost of the material is kept under control.”

Read more: Graphene Electronic Properties Configured for Computer Chips

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