AUG 20, 2019 10:29 AM PDT

Building Atomically Thin Protection from Excessive Heat in Electronic Devices

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Smartphones and laptops start to heat when in use which can often be discomforting to users. Excess heat is also known to lead to malfunctions and even cause lithium batteries to explode. Often times glass, plastic, and layers of insulation are used to prevent heat-generating components of electronic devices from causing damage. Now, researchers at Stanford University have illustrated that a few layers of atoms can provide the same quality of insulation as 100 thick sheets of glass—these studies may someday provide the basis for engineering more compact electronics than what we have today.

"We're looking at the heat in electronic devices in an entirely new way," says Eric Pop, professor of electrical engineering and senior author of the study which was published in Science Advances.

Believe it or not, the heat felt from cellular usage or working on your laptop is actually an inaudible form of high-frequency sound. This is because the flowing electricity allows a stream of electrons to collide with the atoms causing a vibration. The continuous vibration generates energy that is felt as heat.

It is long known that studios for music are quiet from the construction of thick glass windows that block exterior sound—this principle inspired the study in generating better shielding on electronic devices. "We adapted that idea by creating an insulator that used several layers of atomically thin materials instead of a thick mass of glass," stated postdoctoral scholar Sam Vaziri, the lead author on the paper.

Stanford University: This greatly magnified image shows four layers of atomically thin materials that form a heat-shield just two to three nanometers thick, or roughly 50,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper. (Image credit: National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Specifically, researchers used a layer of graphene along with three other sheet-like materials to create a four-layered insulator that is just 10 atoms deep. The idea of developing atomically thin materials is a fairly a new concept. Roughly, 15 years ago scientists for the first time isolated some materials into such thin layers—one such example is graphene which is a single layer of carbon atoms that has inspired new applications in recent years.

The developed insulator is effective enough because the atomic heat vibrations are dampened and thus lose most of the energy as they pass through every layer. "As engineers, we know quite a lot about how to control electricity, and we're getting better with light, but we're just starting to understand how to manipulate the high-frequency sound that manifests itself as heat at the atomic scale," Pop said.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
BS/MS
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
You May Also Like
OCT 05, 2022
Technology
Swimming Microrobots Treat Fatal Pneumonia in Mice
OCT 05, 2022
Swimming Microrobots Treat Fatal Pneumonia in Mice
In a recent study published in Nature Materials, a team of researchers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD ...
OCT 20, 2022
Plants & Animals
Using Drones with Heat-Sensing Cameras to Protect Sea Turtle Nests
OCT 20, 2022
Using Drones with Heat-Sensing Cameras to Protect Sea Turtle Nests
Sea turtles are well known for their curious way of producing offspring: once eggs are laid on a beach, the baby turtles ...
NOV 05, 2022
Technology
Researchers Develop Edible QR Codes
NOV 05, 2022
Researchers Develop Edible QR Codes
In a recent study that will be presented at The 35th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, a t ...
OCT 30, 2022
Space & Astronomy
A "Marshmallow" in Space!
OCT 30, 2022
A "Marshmallow" in Space!
In a paper recently published in The Astronomical Journal, astronomers have observed the lowest-density – or fluff ...
NOV 14, 2022
Cancer
Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise as it Enters Phase 2 Trial
NOV 14, 2022
Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise as it Enters Phase 2 Trial
About 20% of breast cancers exhibit elevated levels of a protein known as HER2.  You may have heard the classifier ...
NOV 17, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Implantable Pump Delivers Chemotherapy Directly to the Brain
NOV 17, 2022
Implantable Pump Delivers Chemotherapy Directly to the Brain
An implantable pump can bypass the blood-brain barrier and deliver chemotherapy to specific brain areas. The correspondi ...
Loading Comments...