Researchers developed a way to dynamically control the heat in electronic devices according to the internal and external temperature.
Electronic devices and vehicles that use lithium-ion batteries are prone to malfunctioning and performance degradation when exposed to extreme temperatures. To overcome this issue, engineers from Purdue University have developed a thermal switch made up of compressible graphene foam, that dynamically adjusts to temperatures both inside and outside the device to maintain consistent thermal management.
As graphene foam compresses, its thermal conductivity increases significantly. Therefore, the amount of heat conductance needed can be adjusted according to temperature conditions both inside and outside the device, which improves performance and energy efficiency.
The researchers sandwiched a 1.2-millimeter-thick sample of graphene foam in between a heater and heat sink, and placed the system under an infrared microscope to measure the temperature and heat flow. When the foam was compressed to 0.2 mm thickness, the thermal conductivity increased by a factor of 8. They then tested an experiment in a chamber at Purdue’s Flex Lab that can create specific environmental conditions, and achieved similar results with ambient temperatures from 0° C (32° F) to 30°C (86° F).
The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications.