One of the main problems with electrical devices is that they generate a lot of heat. This defect also involves electric devices equipped with batteries, in fact in these cases it is perhaps even more serious given that a higher level of heat can contribute not only to malfunctions of the device but also to damage the battery, leading in some cases, as in the batteries to lithium, at an explosion risk.
Precisely for this reason, various materials are used, such as glass or plastic, to isolate the electrical components that generate more heat, first of all microprocessors.
A group of Stanford researchers has created a new insulating barrier made from very thin materials that can be stacked like sheets of paper right at the hottest points of electronic devices and that provide the same type of insulation as a 100 times thicker glass plate.
The study, published in Science Advances, describes these thermal nanoscale made of materials as thin as an atom. They are made from a layer of graphene and three other materials structured to resemble very thin sheets, each with a thickness of three atoms. A four-layer insulating barrier is thus created that is only 10 atoms deep and is able to dampen the heat vibrations at the atomic level. The same heat loses most of its energy as it passes through each layer.
“We adapted this idea by creating an insulator that uses several layers of atomically thin materials instead of a thick mass of glass,” says Sam Vaziri, lead author of the study. Now the same researchers are looking for a method to deposit these very thin layers on electronic components during the production of the latter.
In any case, as reported in the press release, the long-term goal of the scientists themselves is to be able to one day control the vibrational energy within the materials as electricity or light is now controlled, something that seems increasingly possible given the great advances in heat-related research in solid objects made in recent years.