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First Diode for Thermal Management of Micro and Macro Devices

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryAlex Zettl, Arun Majumdar and colleagues at Berkeley Lab have invented the first solid state thermal rectifier. The device consists of a boron nitride nanotube (BNNT) loaded at one end with a high mass density material - specifically, trimethyl cyclopentadienyl platinum (C9H16Pt). The researchers achieved thermal rectifications as high as 7 percent at room temperature. Mass loaded carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were found to display thermal rectification of 2 percent. DescriptionThe Berkeley Lab nanoscale solid state device is to thermal systems what the diode is to electronics. Controlling the direction of heat flow could lead to radical improvements in thermal management across a range of products. For example, the Berkeley Lab thermal diode might prevent overheating in microelectronic devices, currently a barrier to significant size reductions. Since the technology can be designed to handle high macroscopic thermal current densities, it may also lead to more efficient refrigerators, solar cells, and buildings. The new thermal diode could also result in computing systems that use phonons instead of, or in addition to, electrons for manipulating and transporting information bits. Benefits
  • First solid state device to direct heat flow
  • Initial tests demonstrate thermal rectification of 7 percent
  • Can accommodate high macroscopic thermal current densities
Applications and IndustriesThermal management for:
  • microelectronic devices
  • solar cells and solar energy management systems
  • refrigerators
  • hybrid biological/inorganic systems
  • nanoscale calorimeters
  • Information transport and processing
  • Molecular motors
More InformationChang, C.W., Okawa, D., Majumdar, A., Zettl, A., “Solid State Thermal Rectifier,” Science 2006, 314, pp. 1121-1124.

International Patent Number WO/2008/042920
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
IB-2336Development - Available06/15/201012/27/2010

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