Making every micron valuable is a key consideration for modern smartphone designers and engineers, and a new material could free up some valuable space,media reported. Scientists have developed a nano-thick form of graphite that helps keep electronic devices cool and, in doing so, takes up only a fraction of the space of the current solution.
Graphite films play an important role in keeping many electronic devices cool, and their excellent thermal conductivity is used to neutralise the heat generated by surrounding components. However, they are not easy to manufacture and require multiple processes to place the material at extreme temperatures of up to 3,200 degrees C in order to produce a film about a few microns thick.
“The use of polymers as a source material to make these graphite films is complex and energy-intensive,” said G. Deokar said.
Deokar and his colleagues at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia have been working on a more efficient way to produce these graphite cooling devices. The technology involves the use of nickel foil as a catalyst to convert hot methane gas into graphite. The graphite film formed on the nickel foil surface is only 100 nanometers thick.
The team calls these films nano-thick graphite films (NGFs), which are produced by placing the material at temperatures of about 900 degrees Celsius. In this process, NGFs form on both sides of the foil and can grow into 55 square centimeters (8.52 inches) of flakes. These films can be extracted and transferred to other surfaces.
These NGFs are much thinner than the micron-thick graphite films currently in use, but are still much thicker than single-layer graphene. The researchers say it may provide a degree of flexibility and robustness in this way, while the materials are less expensive to produce.
“NGFs complement graphene and industrial graphite sheets, adding a layered carbon film toolbox,” Costa said.
These conductive and translucent films can be used to keep mobile devices cool. The researchers say their versatility can be seen as a component of solar cells or as a sensor for detecting nitrogen dioxide gas. “We plan to integrate NGFs into our equipment as a versatile active material,” Costa said.
The paper describing the team’s research was published in the journal Nanotechnology and Scientific Reports.