PORTLAND, Ore. -- Carbon is predicted to replace semiconductors, conductors and even insulators in future electronic devices and its already happening one application at a time. The most recent conquest by pure crystalline carbon--graphene--is a new composite material that offers a more efficient and less expensive way of cooling electronic devices than copper alone.
By fabricated heat spreaders from a unique copper-graphene composite and connecting it to microchips using an indium-graphene interface film, heat is dissipated 25 percent faster than with the pure copper heat spreaders used today. The techniques is also cheaper to produce, since it uses less copper that conventional heat spreaders, and will be particularly useful for electronic devices that generate a lot of heat, such as lasers and power semiconductors.
According to North Carolina State University researcher Jag Kasichainula, the thermal conductivity of both his copper-graphene composite, which is attached to the electronic device, and the indium-graphene interface film, are higher than copper, and yet are cheaper due to the exscalating price of copper. The copper-graphene composite can be deposited in films as thin as 200 microns, according to the effective medium approximation (EMA) method of modeling thermal conductivity and determining the interfacial thermal conductance between copper and graphene.
Kasichainula has also created a blueprint for manufacturers wishing to quickly retool for fabrication of the graphene-copper heat spreader using an electrochemical deposition process.