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Newly Discovered Property Could Help Beat the Heat Problem in Computer Chips

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A property known as 3-D negative electronic compressibility could be used in components for computer chips, like the one pictured here, to reduce heat buildup

Researchers have observed an exotic property that could reduce heat buildup and improve performance of computer components.

Credit: iStock

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) National Accelerator Laboratory observed an exotic property that could alter the electronic structure of a material to reduce heat buildup and improve performance in computer components.

The researchers studied a form of iridium oxide and found it has a long-theorized property called 3D negative electronic compressibility. This means the material's electronic structure, instead of its physical structure, substantially warps as electrons are added. The researchers found that a gap between different groupings of energy bands in the sample material shrank as electrons were added, reducing the material's stored energy level. In theory, using this type of material in transistors could substantially enhance their efficiency and reduce heat buildup, according to Boston College researcher Junfeng He.

The researchers currently are working on the first demonstration of the material's potential application to transistors. They precisely measured the electronic structure of the material using an advanced x-ray technique at SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. "This work informs us of the importance to continually look for other new materials with novel physical properties for use in transistors and for other applications," says University of California, Santa Barbara professor Stephen Wilson.

From Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
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