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Thermal Nanotape Promises Cooler, Healthier Chips

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the what's-wrong-with-grease dept.

Hardware 48

Blacklaw writes "A team of researchers comprised of members from the Semiconductor Research Corporation and Stanford University has developed a new thermal nanotape which it claims will lead to chips that run cooler and last longer. The thermal nanotape, constructed of binder materials surrounding carbon nanotubes, promises to lead to the creation of semiconductors — including CPUs and GPUs — that don't suffer from the rigors of frequent temperature changes, known as thermal cycling."

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48 comments

Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (4, Funny)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981234)

I had a mental picture of a really, really tiny tape dispenser.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (3, Funny)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981310)

I had a mental picture of healthy potato chips. I should have had breakfast.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981336)

I had the picture of potato chips wrapped in black electrical tape. I don't care how healthy they are I aint gonna eat em!

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981590)

I just had mental a picture of Data or Dr. Who saying, "We could use thermal nanotape to reduce thermal cycling with carbon nanotubes" and me snickering at the blatant pseudoscience jargon.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981674)

I always jump to that bit from Alien where the blood is eating through the decks and the Commander ruins someone's pen examining the stuff and says "molecular acid". You would think with those budgets they could get a natural sciences student to read through the scripts or something? Don't get me started on the "unobtanium" from Avatar.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981864)

You might be amused by a few facts regarding the word unobta(i)nium [wikipedia.org] , and an explanation of its behaviour in said film.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34982178)

Yes, I like that page and I usually forget that "i" when typing fast too. Got to use a bunch of those terms and (I think) a few of my own when I did my Avatar review last year.
Writing of the aircraft in the movie:

Unless they are made of ‘upsidasium’ they must be fueled by ‘undepletium’ because they are always fully loaded and hovering.

Note: ‘upsidasium’ was from the Rockey and Bullwinkle show.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34982970)

Ability to reach high sub-light speeds somewhat implies insane materials science and energy densities.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34983076)

Ability to reach high sub-light speeds somewhat implies insane materials science and energy densities.

But the exhaust ports, exhaust and staining on the atmospheric craft suggest plain old carbon based fuels. When the folks mentioned in my review started going through how that stuff works now, we came to the conclusion that they just stuck turbine engines to generators and ran wires to the ceramic/unobtainium motors driving the blades.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#34985774)

Well, you need reaction mass anyway in the shuttle. Which would be likely very superheated / might explain staining similar to when using hydrocarbons.

Atmospheric turbines would most likely superheat the flowing air too (there would be surely plenty of waste heat / cooling required, whatever powers the turbines) - even if both in & out would be only air, just slightly organic (burned to soot while passing the turbine) haze ought to leave its mark after a while. Also: partial breakup of compounds forming the atmosphere, or even minute quantities of "exotic" ones created, might contribute to contrail of sorts.

Anyway, it certainly wasn't too wild. Plus: if non-interstellar vehicles don't use particularly insane energy densities, if they fly on hydrocarbons / etc. - their structure could still strongly benefit from insane materials science (certainly present in interstellar craft). Make the work of "normal" turbines easier.

Re:Nanotape? Or nanotube tape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34985746)

The duck is small, on this one.

another vapourware story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34981458)

has _any_ single product containing "nanotubes" ever been released for sale ?
because from what i can see there hasn't, its all stories containing the words: may,could,might

seriously save the press releases until you actually create a product that can be bought

Re:another vapourware story (1)

numb7rs (1689018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981522)

The main problem with CNT is the health concerns. Because it's such a new material, nobody really knows what will happen if it gets released into the environment. It's already widely accepted that they might be carcinogenic if inhaled, but obviously nobody wants to do studies. Most of these projects fall down at the H&S hurdle.

Re:another vapourware story (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981646)

I recall some obscure articles and google ads about CNT products for sale. Unless you're a material engineer doing something very obscure work you're unlikely to have a use for it though.
It's is simply a very niched market right now, the average user is unlikely to know of it until they can buy a neight indestructible tee(with some absurd caption about indestructibility that will get them in trouble).

Re:another vapourware story (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34982020)

I recall some obscure articles and google ads about CNT products for sale. Unless you're a material engineer doing something very obscure work you're unlikely to have a use for it though.

Off the shelf at

http://www.kleancarbon.com/Single-Wall-Carbon-Nano-tubes.aspx [kleancarbon.com]

Kind of expensive.

Note that fullerenes form in natural soot. So its unlikely a typical fullerene is super dangerous.

One huge problem is fullerenes are a class of material, not one individual atom (err, well, they're mostly C) or molecule. You know how pissed off chemists were about that superman movie where he dissolved a computer using "acid" so a generation of the clueless masses grew up thinking there is an element or something called "acid" and all acids including citric will instantly vaporize steel, fiberglass, and silicon? Well the nano guys get that way about fullerenes and cancer. Could you theoretically micromachine a nanotube that is the exact same size and shape as an asbestos fiber and then inhale a bunch of them and die? Well, yeah if you intentionally tried really freaking hard, but why would you do something that stupid?

Kind of like blaming that new-fangled "metal" technology because people get hurt when tiny chemically propelled chunks of "metal" strike them in their heart, or when you make a hundred pound pile of U235 bad stuff happens, so I suggest we all live in fear of this "metal" technology and watch lots of scary TV.

Re:another vapourware story (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34982772)

Note that fullerenes form in natural soot. So its unlikely a typical fullerene is super dangerous.

The problem with this idea is that soot is a known carcinogen.

Re:another vapourware story (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34984310)

Note that fullerenes form in natural soot. So its unlikely a typical fullerene is super dangerous.

The problem with this idea is that soot is a known carcinogen.

Many substances are known carcinogens, but how dangerous are they?

Asbestos is one substance that's a known carcinogen and is strictly controlled or outlawed in most countries, but it's not particularly dangerous unless one is constantly exposed to it in a workplace. Asbestos fibers occur naturally in the air and water, a normal adult has millions of asbestos fibers in the lungs.

Nanotubes resemble asbestos in some ways, so they probably have similar characteristics. They are probably mildly carcinogenic at continued exposures. However I don't think they will pose the same risk as asbestos did in the early 20th century because workplace conditions are much healthier these days. Besides, asbestos was mined, carbon nanotubes are fabricated. That makes a lot of difference in the relative air concentrations of each.

Re:another vapourware story (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34984590)

Many substances are known carcinogens, but how dangerous are they?

That's pretty well-known, too. We don't just figure out they cause cancer and then decide we're done.

Asbestos is one substance that's a known carcinogen and is strictly controlled or outlawed in most countries, but it's not particularly dangerous unless one is constantly exposed to it in a workplace. Asbestos fibers occur naturally in the air and water, a normal adult has millions of asbestos fibers in the lungs.

But the mean size of processed asbestos particles is more dangerous.

Nanotubes resemble asbestos in some ways, so they probably have similar characteristics. They are probably mildly carcinogenic at continued exposures. However I don't think they will pose the same risk as asbestos did in the early 20th century because workplace conditions are much healthier these days. Besides, asbestos was mined, carbon nanotubes are fabricated. That makes a lot of difference in the relative air concentrations of each.

Not necessarily. It depends on the mining and containment techniques, and further, on what happens to them afterwards. It was not the practice to use Asbestos in conditions where it would be released into the atmosphere except in brake linings, for which we today have superior compounds (albeit not quite as inexpensive) and for which we truly no longer need it (because modern brake fluids make thermal transfer less of an issue, where they are specified... which is IMO in an insufficient number of cases. Anyone installing DOT3 fluid in anything is a stupid tool.)

In any case, soot has been found to be an incredibly common carcinogen and its production and even its characteristics are controlled in any industrial context. Well, it's supposed to be. You can find excessive emissions in commercial cases as fast as you can pay people to climb smokestacks and drop probes down them.

Re:another vapourware story (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 2 years ago | (#34986112)

Asbestos is one substance that's a known carcinogen and is strictly controlled or outlawed in most countries, but it's not particularly dangerous unless one is constantly exposed to it in a workplace.

Asbestos includes several forms of fibrous mineral. Some are not particularly dangerous, some are very dangerous. It may take a long time for cancer and asbestos-related lung diseases to show up, but that doesn't mean no harm was done.

Asbestos fibers occur naturally in the air and water, a normal adult has millions of asbestos fibers in the lungs.

I'm willing to bet that the amount of asbestos in air, water, and especially the lungs of a normal adult from natural sources is an order of magnitude lower than the amount from mankind's activities.

Re:another vapourware story (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#34987252)

Actually there are several problem with "Naked Nanotubes" that make them potentially very dangerous.

First because of their size, they can go virtually anywhere in a body and lodge virtually anyplace, messing with synaptic structures, metabolic processes, and potentially damaging cell machinery up to and including DNA/RNA. Second they are highly reactive chemically, and because all the interesting chemistry in a human being is organic (i.e. carbon based), nanotubes can and in fact do have significant impacts on everything from endocrine function to muscle contraction.

The good news is if you bind one or both ends of the tube to a substrate it tends the stay put rather well (or in the case of the nano tape, incorporate the tubes into a foam.) Also if you add a metal ion to a tube, you make the tube biologically inert, and therefore much less toxic. So there are existing technologies for making nanotube relatively safe, and we simply need to come up with intelligent ways to produce and dispose of said nanotubes to keep the environment friendly for life as we know it.

Re:another vapourware story (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#34987610)

The good news is if you bind one or both ends of the tube to a substrate it tends the stay put rather well

As long as the tube doesn't break, in which case you have new, non-bound, ends. I suppose any event that liberates particles of nanotubes from a larger substrate involve breaking things, so one can still see some problems here.

Re:another vapourware story (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981700)

No, but stories with nanotubes and buckeyballs have a very high probability of being posted on /.

Re:another vapourware story (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34983916)

Tennis rackets, golf clubs and fishing poles. Most of it it traditional carbon fiber with a fairly small percentage of nanotubes added.

3D ICs? (2)

numb7rs (1689018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981544)

Could this be the answer to cooling 3D ICs too? Layers of this stuff inbetween the layers of silicon. The thermal regulation seems to be where most 3D ICs fall down.

This is bad news (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34981564)

Thermal Nanotape Promises Cooler Chips

This isn't good. Chips should remain nerdy for maximum performance.

I can't wait to get my hands on it! (1)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981584)

Unlike thermal grease, which I can't wait to get off my hands... and everything else I touch. I'm all for something that lets me handle a CPU without needing a roll of paper towels.

Re:I can't wait to get my hands on it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34981634)

> I'm all for something that lets me handle a CPU without needing a roll of paper towels.

Stop going to 4chan, then.

Re:I can't wait to get my hands on it! (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34983450)

Juice from citrus peel, lighter fluid or pretty much any solvent will shift thermal past, or you could:

A: Use gloves

B: Not be so ham-fisted (I'm not trying to be insulting but seriously, how difficult is it to put a small blob of goo on a little square and spread it around with a credit card?!)

Re:I can't wait to get my hands on it! (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#34987152)

Here's [sears.com] the answer to your needs. Most assembled products these days use thermal pads since they are much easier to automate and can come in higher transfer values than pastes.

Nanoparticles are a health hazard (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34982692)

They are so small they pass through the cell wall. A company released a nano car polish that made people sick. Last thing I need is to have nano-scale thermal compound in my body.

Re:Nanoparticles are a health hazard (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#34987270)

That's like saying metals are a health hazard because a guy used some metal to kill people in Arizona. C60, by far the most studied nanoparticle has been shown to be non-carcinogenic by itself although it does make a nice carrier for molecular oxygen for delivering a carcinogenic payload (ban oxygen!).

Running cooler - fewer thermal cycles? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34983390)

To me it just sounds like a replacement for colloidal silver paste: flexible but with a high thermal conductivity. I'm not poo-pooing the invention but what was wrong with paste, exactly? From what I read in TFA this just sounds like something else being hyped because CNTs are involved.

What's a good article to read about CPU longevity and running temperature? In my ignorance it seems like there's not much of a problem so long as nothing cracks as a result of differential expansion.

To take a more pragmatic view, who cares if you can eke a few more years out of a processor? The chances are those extra years will be after you've bought a new and better model anyway.

Re:Running cooler - fewer thermal cycles? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#34986146)

Try looking beyond your PC sometimes; integrated circuits will be sort of in everything, not a long time from now. Already there might be more ARM cores shipping annually than total number of x86 ones ever produced. And once good enough, they're supposed to last.

The thing from TFA seems more suited to automated mass production of embedded devices.

Re:Running cooler - fewer thermal cycles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34986454)

ICs already are in everything, and last time I checked none of them had more than the smallest heatsinks. The thing about portable devices is that they're designed to use as little power as possible and to be as thermally efficient as possible.

3/10 for effort. Try again.

Re:Running cooler - fewer thermal cycles? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#34987250)

Gee, I wonder if there's some way a development enabling better thermal management and longevity / cycling (*) could be of any use to tightly miniaturized embedded stuff... (*)running typically in constant on/sleep way. Not nearly in everything, there's only ~3 times more ARM cores than people; only dozen around me.

And you're trying to judge me?

High what generation now?? (1)

llamalicious (448215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34983526)

I'm hoping the good professor was simply misquoted, shouldn't that read "high waste-heat generation"?
And could they perhaps check that SRC isn't called SCR when quoting him? /pedant

Nanotube Ducktape (1)

Skelde (697341) | more than 3 years ago | (#34984736)

Ohh, all the uses i would have for that.

When the invent that, we will finally be able to build a space elevator.

Re:Nanotube Ducktape (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#34987448)

The mental image of a chubby flight crew technician nano-duck-taping a Russian heavy lift vehicle to an American payload module, taping away in all his Mr. Fixit, butt-crack glory... has given my minds eye a need for psychological Visine... it burns, it burns!!! I think I'm going to have my brain washed out now. Ta

Sh1t?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34985518)

track of where megs of ram runs UNLESS YOU CAN WORK of programmIng Join GNAA (GAY BSD sux08rs. What most people into a simple solution

What I'd like to see... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#34987320)

Is a nanotube technology the sucked the heat out of processors, and turned it back into electricity with a fairly high level of efficiency. Store that energy in high performance capacitors and you could cut the waste heat and electrical consumption of electronic devices by some huge amount. Imagine a laptop supercomputer running for months on a charge... of course there would be the energy lost from producing an illuminated display. We need hardware to interface our computers and visual cortices!!! imagine the improved visual experience and reduced energy consumption. Perhaps???

Re:What I'd like to see... (1)

klkblake (1705410) | more than 3 years ago | (#34991330)

You can't turn heat into electricity without violating the second law of thermodynamics. You can get some electricity from a heat differential, but not enough to be worth it outside of data centers.
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