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Could Holey Silicon Be the Holy Grail of Electronics?

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Holey silicon, close up.

Scientists at the University of California, Irvine have demonstrated the use of holey silicon to facilitate cooling in electronics.


University of California, Irvine (UCI) researchers have verified a new material configuration to facilitate cooling, as integrated circuits grow ever smaller, driving the need for new ways to avoid component overheating.

UCI's Nano Thermal Energy Research Group used holey silicon, thin silicon membranes with small, vertically etched orifices that work to shuttle heat to desired locations. Holey silicon encourages heat to travel vertically through but not laterally across, allowing the material to effectively move the heat from local hot spots to on-chip cooling systems in the vertical direction while sustaining the necessary temperature gradient for thermoelectric junctions in the lateral direction, the researchers say.

Lab simulations proved holey silicon is at least 400% more effective at cooling than chalcogenides, compounds commonly used in thermoelectric cooling devices.

From University of California, Irvine
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