University of California, Riverside (UCR) researchers have found that creating a graphene-copper-graphene sandwich strongly enhances the heat conducting properties of copper, a breakthrough they say could lead to the next generation of electronics. “This enhancement of copper’s ability to conduct heat could become important in the development of hybrid copper-graphene interconnects for electronic chips that continue to get smaller and smaller,” says UCR professor Alexander A. Balandin. At first, the researchers were surprised the improvement of thermal properties of graphene-coated copper films was so significant despite the fact that graphene’s thickness is only one atom. However, they realized the improvement is the result of changes in copper’s nano- and microstructure, not from graphene’s action as an additional heat-conducting channel. The researchers found that chemical vapor deposition of graphene conducted at a high temperature stimulates grain size growth in copper films, and the larger grain sizes in copper coated with graphene results in better heat conduction. They also found that the heat conduction improvement by adding graphene was more pronounced in thinner copper films, which is important because the enhancement should further improve as future copper interconnects scale down to the nanometer range.
More info: UCR Newsroom (03/11/14) Sean Nealon