North Carolina State University Researches Find a Better, Cheaper Way to Cool Computers

Written by John Ponio    Tuesday, 10 April 2012 18:30

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Currently inside your computer is a copper heatsink that's attached to the heat spreader on your CPU. Between the heat spreader and the heatsink is a layer of thermal paste, which helps fill the microscopic gaps in between the two surfaces to increase thermal conductivity. This is the main method because it's both effective and relatively cheap. This technology has remained relatively the same over the past few years, but now researchers at North Carolina State University have found an even better, less expensive way to do it. The method discovered by the researchers uses a copper- graphene composite, which is apparently quite a large improvement over pure copper heatsinks.

The copper-graphene heatsink uses indium-graphene interface film to improve thermal conductivity, so it doesn't look like they're using thermal paste anymore. I imagine it's the same principle, though. Dr. Jag Kasichainula, associate professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and author of a paper on the research, says that both copper-graphene and indium-copper are better thermal conductors that pure copper. Using these materials, the researchers were able to cool their test about 25% faster than just pure copper would. And since copper is expensive and graphene isn't comparatively, this new product could lower the cost of heatsinks while driving up performance. 

There's no mention of making this into a product on the market, but I'm sure a company will pick it up soon and we'll see this technology on the market in the next few years. If you're interested, you can read the abstract of the paper here. If you want to read the whole paper, you can purchase it here for $34.95.