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Heat behaviour discovery could improve electronic device performance

A study that examined the effect of heating small current lines placed on top of a silicon substrate, is said to have stimulated the behaviour of current transistors.

The researchers at the Department of Physics and the Department of Electronics Engineering at the UAB and from the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue University claim that these results cannot be explained with the laws ruling heat behaviour in the everyday. Instead, a theoretical model developed by students Pol Torres and Àlvar Torelló, under the supervision of UAB professors Francesc Xavier Àlvarez and Xavier Cartoixà, aims to explain these experimental observations.

According to the team, their model shows that heat flow finds it difficult to make a sharp turn when going from metal to the substrate. This apparently makes it harder for the metal line to cool and so its temperature rises to values that cannot be explained with the present-day model.

The most active parts of an electronic device may accumulate hot spots in very localised zones during operation and this can cause problems with device functioning – a challenge faced with current processors.

The researchers believe this discovery could lead to a better thermal management in electronic devices. The proposed description, they say, represents a significant improvement over the current models device engineers use. Instead, the team claims that their work builds on UAB professors, David Jou and José Casas’, concept of Extended Thermodynamics, representing a positive test within this theory.

Bethan Grylls

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