Nav: Home

UCLA engineers develop world's most efficient semiconductor for thermal management

July 18, 2018

Working to address "hotspots" in computer chips that degrade their performance, UCLA engineers have developed a new semiconductor material, defect-free boron arsenide, that is more effective at drawing and dissipating waste heat than any other known semiconductor or metal materials.

This could potentially revolutionize thermal management designs for computer processors and other electronics, or for light-based devices like LEDs.

The study was recently published in Science and was led by Yongjie Hu, UCLA assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Computer processors have continued to shrink down to nanometer sizes where today there can be billions of transistors are on a single chip. This phenomenon is described under Moore's Law, which predicts that the number of transistors on a chip will double about every two years. Each smaller generation of chips helps make computers faster, more powerful and able to do more work. But doing more work also means they're generating more heat.

Managing heat in electronics has increasingly become one of the biggest challenges in optimizing performance. High heat is an issue for two reasons. First, as transistors shrink in size, more heat is generated within the same footprint. This high heat slows down processor speeds, in particular at "hotspots" on chips where heat concentrates and temperatures soar. Second, a lot of energy is used to keep those processors cool. If CPUs did not get as hot in the first place, then they could work faster and much less energy would be needed to keep them cool.

The UCLA study was the culmination of several years of research by Hu and his students that included designing and making the materials, predictive modeling, and precision measurements of temperatures.

The defect-free boron arsenide, which was made for the first time by the UCLA team, has a record-high thermal conductivity, more than three-times faster at conducting heat than currently used materials, such as silicon carbide and copper, so that heat that would otherwise concentrate in hotspots is quickly flushed away.

"This material could help greatly improve performance and reduce energy demand in all kinds of electronics, from small devices to the most advanced computer data center equipment," Hu said. "It has excellent potential to be integrated into current manufacturing processes because of its semiconductor properties and the demonstrated capability to scale-up this technology. It could replace current state-of-the-art semiconductor materials for computers and revolutionize the electronics industry."

The study's other authors are UCLA graduate students in Hu's research group: Joonsang Kang, Man Li, Huan Wu, and Huuduy Nguyen.

In addition to the impact for electronic and photonics devices, the study also revealed new fundamental insights into the physics of how heat flows through a material.

"This success exemplifies the power of combining experiments and theory in new materials discovery, and I believe this approach will continue to push the scientific frontiers in many areas, including energy, electronics, and photonics applications," Hu said.
-end-
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the American Chemical Society's Petroleum Research Fund, UCLA's Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, and the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation.

UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

Related Semiconductor Articles:

Researchers repurpose failed cancer drug into printable semiconductor
Many potential pharmaceuticals end up failing during clinical trials, but thanks to new research from the University of Illinois, biological molecules once considered for cancer treatment are now being repurposed as organic semiconductors for use in chemical sensors and transistors.
Clarification of a new synthesis mechanism of semiconductor atomic sheet
Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan succeeded in clarifying a new synthesis mechanism regarding transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD), which are semiconductor atomic sheets having thickness in atomic order.
Future of portable electronics -- Novel organic semiconductor with exciting properties
Organic semiconductors have advantages over inorganic semiconductors in several areas.
A new method for quantifying crystal semiconductor efficiency
Japanese scientists have found a new way to successfully detect the efficiency of crystal semiconductors.
X-rays reveal monolayer phase in organic semiconductor
An international team of researchers has investigated how the electrical properties of dihexyl-quarterthiophene thin films depend on their structure.
More Semiconductor News and Semiconductor Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...