With the advancement of technology, many electronic products are getting smaller and smaller, but since heat is generated as soon as the current is passed, overheating has become a major obstacle to the reduction of the size of electronic devices.
Scientists have found that nanowires made from isotopes of silicon have 150% better thermal conductivity than ordinary silicon, and are expected to be used in computer chips in the future to greatly reduce their temperature.
When the electronic system operates, the current generates a lot of heat, which will damage the components over a long period of time. Therefore, the technology industry has also begun to develop cooling technology, but as electronic products become smaller and smaller, it is more difficult to effectively dissipate heat.
Researchers have found that the isotope of silicon, Si-28, helps make computer chips that cool better than expected. At least 92% of the silicon is in the form of silicon-28, another 5% is silicon-29 (Si-29), and the rest is silicon-30 (Si-30). While these isotopes have the same electronic function, past research has found that “impurities” in Si-29 and Si-30 interrupt the flow of heat.
As for the bulk components made of Si-28, thermal conductivity can be improved by 10%, but it is not worth the extra cost to make. The researchers then used nanowires made of silicon-28 and found that the thermal conductivity was unexpectedly good. It was expected to improve the effect by 20%, but the performance was unexpectedly 150% better than that of nanowires made of natural silicon.
The reason is that a layer of silicon dioxide is formed on the outside of the nanowire, which smoothes the rough surface during heat dissipation. Because there is no other isotope problem inside the wire, the heat can smoothly pass through the core of the nanowire.
This could help in the development of new computer chips that would transport heat away more efficiently, but separating silicon-28 from other isotopes is difficult and expensive, but it is believed that progress will be made in this area in the future.
We tried to simplify this topic. If you want to learn more about this, Deep Dive in this topic:
- Giant Isotope Effect of Thermal Conductivity in Silicon Nanowires
- Isotope-pure silicon nanowires could make computer chips much cooler
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