industry news
Subscribe Now

NRL Researchers Discover Novel Material for Cooling of Electronic Devices

A team of theoretical physicists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Boston College has identified cubic boron arsenide as a material with an extraordinarily high thermal conductivity and the potential to transfer heat more effectively from electronic devices than diamond, the best-known thermal conductor to date.

Schematic of thermal management in electronics: Local temperature increases occur as a result of current flow in active regions of devices and can lead to degradation of device performance. Materials with high thermal conductivities are used in heat spreading and sinking to conduct heat from the hot regions. 

As microelectronic devices become smaller, faster, and more powerful, thermal management is becoming a critical challenge. This work provides new insight into the nature of thermal transport at a quantitative level and predicts a new material, with ultra-high thermal conductivity, of potential interest for passive cooling applications.

Calculating the thermal conductivity of cubic III-V boron compounds using a predictive first principles approach, the team has found boron arsenide (BAs) to have a remarkable room temperature thermal conductivity, greater than 2,000 Watts per meter per degree Kelvin (>2000 Wm-1K-1). This is comparable to those in diamond and graphite, which are the highest bulk values known.

Unlike metals, where the electrons carry the heat, diamond and boron arsenide are electrical insulators. For the latter type of materials heat is carried by vibrational waves (phonons) of the constituent atoms, and intrinsic resistance to heat flow results from these waves scattering from one another. Diamond is of interest for cooling applications but it is scarce and its synthetic fabrication suffers from slow growth rates, high costs, and low quality. However, little progress has been made to date in identifying new high thermally conductive materials.

Historically, fully microscopic, parameter-free computational materials techniques have been more advanced for electronic properties than for thermal transport.

“In the last few years with contributions from the NRL team, ‘ab initio’ quantitative techniques have been developed for thermal transport,” said Dr. Thomas L. Reinecke, physicist, Electronics Science and Technology Division. “These techniques open the way to a fuller understanding of the key physical features in thermal transport and to the ability to predict accurately the thermal conductivity of new materials.”

These surprising findings for boron arsenide result from an unusual interplay of certain of its vibrational properties that lie outside of the guidelines commonly used to estimate the thermal conductivity of electrical insulators. These features cause scatterings between vibrational waves to be far less likely than is typical in a certain range of frequencies, which in turn allows large amounts heat to be conducted in this frequency range.

“If these exciting results are verified by experiment, it will open new opportunities for passive cooling applications with boron arsenide, and it would demonstrate the important role that such theoretical work can play in providing guidance to identify new high thermal conductivity materials,” Reinecke says.

Thermal conductivity calculations from this group are in good agreement with available experimental results for a wide range of materials. The team consisted of Drs. Lucas Lindsay and Tom Reinecke at NRL and Dr. David Broido at Boston College.

This research, supported in part by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), gives important new insight into the physics of thermal transport in materials, and it illustrates the power of modern computational techniques in making quantitative predictions for materials whose properties have yet to be measured.

Get NRL News: RSS

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy’s full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 85 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today’s world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

– See more at: http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2013/nrl-researchers-discover-novel-material-for-cooling-of-electronic-devices#sthash.2CCT9bVx.dpuf

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Aug 9, 2022
The ARMMS RF and Microwave Society is an independent professional society comprised of individuals with interest in the design and measurement of devices and products operating at RF and Microwave frequencies.'¯ The Society serves as a focal point for discussions on a wide r...
Aug 3, 2022
With the completion of the Azure Sky wind farm in Texas, we explore the impact of renewable energy, waste reduction, and more on our sustainability efforts. The post A Change in the Wind: Synopsys’ Sustainability Efforts Grow with a Wind Farm in Texas appeared first on...
Jul 27, 2022
It's easy to envisage a not-so-distant future when sophisticated brain-computer interfaces become available for general-purpose infotainment use....

featured video

Learn How Xcelium Apps Help You Achieve Verification Closure Early for IP/SoC Designs

Sponsored by Cadence Design Systems

Cadence Xcelium Logic Simulator provides the best engine performance for SystemVerilog, VHDL, SystemC®, e, UVM, mixed-signal, low power, and X-propagation. It leverages a set of domain-specific apps, including mixed-signal, machine learning, functional safety, and more, that enable users to achieve verification closure early for IP and SoC designs. Learn how these domain-specific apps can help you achieve verification closure early for IP and SoC designs.

Click here to learn more

featured chalk talk

Mission Critical Electrical Controls

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Littelfuse

If you are working on a mission-critical design, there is a very important list of requirements that you will need to consider for your electromechanical controls including how well they have been tested, availability of inventory, and the quality of the components. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with John Saathoff from Littelfuse electromechanical solutions offered by Hartland Controls, the benefits Hartland brings to the table when it comes to mission-critical designs, and how you can get started using Hartland Controls for your next design.

Click here for more information about Hartland Controls from Littelfuse