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Carbon Nanotubes Take the Heat Off Chips

Purdue scientists find flexible filaments best

3 min read

Computer chips use only 1 percent of their electrical power to process information. They convert the rest to heat. As chips get smaller and faster, they also get ­hotter, which has engineers looking to carbon nanotubes and other new technologies to keep them cool.

The promise of carbon nanotubes lies in their high thermal conductivity, the ease with which heat flows through them from one end to the other. Researchers at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind., managed to grow forests of nanotubes directly on a chip, and they found that the key to making nanotubes work as heat conductors is to make them flexible.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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