Making every micrometer count may be a key consideration for designers & engineers performing on modern smartphones, & new material could release some valuable space. Scientists have developed a nanometer-thick form of graphite that helps keep electronic devices cool, and does so while taking up just a fraction of the real estate of current solutions.
Graphite films play a crucial role keep many electronic devices cool, with their excellent thermal conductivity wont to neutralize the heat produced by the surrounding components. But they aren’t very easy to form, involving a multistep process where material is subjected to extreme temperatures of up to 3,200 °C (5,792 °F) to make films measuring around a couple of micrometers thick.
“The method wont to make these graphite films, using polymer as a source material, is complex & really energy intensive,” says G. Deokar, who led the new research.
Deokar & his colleaques at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) are performing on a more efficient way to produce these graphite cooling devices. The technique involves using nickel foils as a catalyst to turn hot methane gas into graphite. The graphite films that form on the surface of the nickel foils measure just 100 nanometers thick. For reference, 1,000 nanometers structure 1 micrometer.
These sheets, which the team calls nanometer-thick graphite films (NGFs), were produced by subjecting the material to temperatures of around 900 °C (1,652 °F). The method sees NGFs form on either side of the foil, which may be grown in sheets measuring up to 55 sq cm (8.52 in). These sheets can successively be extracted & transferred to other surfaces.
These NGFs are far thinner than the micrometer-thick graphite films currently used, but still far thicker than single-layer graphene. it’s may occupy a sweet spot in this way, acc. to the researchers, offering a degree of flexibility & robustness offered by neither of these materials, while being cheaper to produce.
“NGFs complement graphene and industrial graphite sheets, adding to the toolbox of layered carbon films,” Costa says.
These conductive & semi-transparent sheets might be used for more than just keeping mobile devices cool. The researchers say their versatile nature could see them used as components for solar cells or for sensors that detect NO2 gas.
“We decide to integrate NGFs in devices where they might act as a multifunctional active material,” Costa says.