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A Nano Discovery by Physicists to Cool Down Over Heating Devices

A group of physicists at CU Boulder has cracked the code on a mysterious Nano phenomenon: why some ultra-small heat sources cool down faster when packed closer together. The discoveries, which were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) today, could one day aid the tech industry in developing quicker electronic devices that are less likely to overheat. The investigation began with an unexplained finding: In 2015, JILA researchers led by physicists Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn were experimenting with metal bars on a silicon basis that were several times thinner than a human hair.

Something unusual happened when they used a laser to heat those bars up. Knobloch said, “They behaved very counterintuitively. These Nano-scale heat sources do not usually dissipate heat efficiently. But if you pack them close together, they cool down much more quickly.” The researchers now understand why this occurs. They employed computer-based simulations to follow the transmission of heat from their Nano-sized bars in the current study. They noticed that when they put the heat sources near together, the energy vibrations they produced started to bounce off one other, scattering heat and cooling the bars.

The findings point to a significant issue in developing the next generation of small technologies, such as microprocessors or quantum computer chips: Heat does not always behave the way you expect it to when you shrink it down to very small scales. The researchers went on to say that heat transmission in gadgets is important. Even minor flaws in the design of electronics like computer chips can cause temperature to rise, causing the item to wear out faster. As tech companies attempt to develop smaller and smaller circuits, phonons—atom vibrations that transfer heat in solids—will become more important than ever.

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