Fans, on numerous levels, suck: they're noisy and use up power. But a 3D form of the material known as white graphene could help cool small electronic devices by itself.
Researchers from Rice University have carried out simulations of heat flows through a 3D structure made of boron nitride, also known as white graphene. In its usual 2D form, the material assume the hexagonal structure of normal graphene, but the team wanted to investigate how its natural heat conduction properties could be exploited in 3D arrangements.
Simulations show that 3D structures of white graphene — sheets of the 2D stuff held together with boron nitride nanotubes — quickly move heat in all directions. But they also show that by tuning the lengths and densities of the interconnecting tubes, the material can be tuned to channel heat in specific directions — shorter ones slow conduction, while longer ones speed it up.
While the study is based on simulations, the researchers reckon that the technique could give rise to a mew breed of "3D thermal-management system" for use in small-scale electronics.