Today’s Solutions: October 24, 2021

Preventing our electronic devices from overheating is a major challenge for manufacturers. Currently, the way they control that is by using materials that either conduct or insulate heat. That, however, is becoming increasingly difficult as electronics continue to shrink, leaving much less room for cooling or venting systems, which further complicates the challenge of keeping sensitive components away from those that heat up.

Seeking to find an answer to that problem, scientists at the University of Chicago have discovered a material that acts both as an insulator and a conductor, preventing heat from moving in one direction but allowing it to travel freely in another.

“One of the biggest challenges in electronics is to take care of heat at that scale, because some components of electronics are very unstable at high temperatures,” says study author Shi En Kim. “But if we can use a material that can both conduct heat and insulate heat at the same time in different directions, we can siphon heat away from the heat source — such as the battery — while avoiding the more fragile parts of the device.”

What made the breakthrough possible is a thin film of molybdenum disulfide. Typically the chemical compound is a great conductor of heat, but the researchers discovered that by stacking sheets of the material and then rotating each one slightly, the heat was completely unable to pass between layers vertically, while still being able to move horizontally through the sheet itself, explains New Atlas.

The material could find use in a variety of applications, including preventing batteries from heating up sensitive nearby components, while also keeping them from damaging themselves when overheating.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that the team is confident the effect could be replicated with compounds other than molybdenum disulfide, potentially opening the doors for a completely new class of useful materials.

Study source: NatureExtremely anisotropic van der Waals thermal conductors

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Algae wrapped in droplets improves efficiency of artificial photosynthesis

In our quest for the most sustainable, most renewable sources of energy, humanity continues to look to nature for inspiration. One of nature’s most efficient energy systems is photosynthesis, which is how plants convert sunlight, ... Read More

Evidence shows Vikings arrived in Americas nearly 500 years before Columbus

Researchers have known for a while that Vikings from Greenland founded the village of L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the turn of the millennium, but now, a study published in Nature has finally pinpointed ... Read More

Egypt’s State Council swears-in the nation’s first female judges

Egypt’s State Council was established in 1946 and is an independent judicial body that deals with administrative disputes, disciplinary cases, appeals, reviews draft laws, decisions, and contracts that involve the government or a government-run body. ... Read More

Is group or individual work more productive? Here’s what science says

Are you a group project person or do you prefer to fly solo? We all have our work preferences, but what does science say about teamwork and productivity? A new study conducted by Quartz aims ... Read More

Wildlife filmaker provides a unique insight into the daily lives of bees

You may have seen bees flying around your backyard or local park, but it can be difficult for the naked human eye to grasp the full complexity of the lives of these pollinators. During the ... Read More