on July 15th, 2016

Ever had a cell phone overheat when using a battery-heavy application like the GPS or playing a CPU-intensive game? Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have announced that they have perfected a ‘sand’ that could be used to cool down electronic devices. Electronic devices tend to run at high temperatures. What kind of sand are we talking about here? Silicon dioxide nanoparticles that are covered with a “high dielectric constant polymer”. The researchers explain that the cooling effect is produced by the electromagnetic properties that arise once the silicon dioxide particles collaborate to ensure conductivity. 

EIT Stock Image Credit: Georgia Tech

“We have shown for the first time that you can take a packed nanoparticle bed that would typically act as an insulator and by causing light to couple strongly into the material by engineering a high dielectric constant medium like water or ethylene glycol at the surfaces, you can turn the nanoparticle bed into a conductor,” said Baratunde Cola, an associate professor at George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. 

The researchers published their findings in the Material Horizons journal, under the title High thermal in polaritonic SiO2 nanoparticle beds. 

In summary, the researchers used ethylene glycol to coat the silicon dioxide nanoparticles with so that it turned into a conductor which increased heat transfer by 20-fold. Thus, the electromagnetic effect the nanoparticles have minimizes the amount of heat being produced. 

“You could basically take an electronic device, pack these ethylene glycol-coated nanoparticles in the air space, and it would be useful as a heat dissipation material that at the same time, won’t conduct electricity,” Cola added. 

The coated particles have a sand-like texture to them, hence the assertion that a sand could be used to cool electronic devices down. The researchers say there is still some work to be done due to ethylene glycol easily being evaporated, however, the research will continue until the heat dissipation inside devices is secured. The researchers also say that the coated nanoparticles would be an inexpensive way of ensuring heat is absorbed within electronics and is easy to produce. Sounds like a win for engineering. 

 

Source: GA Tech News 


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