Material could double computer speeds

A thermoelectric material that may help double the speed of computers has been discovered by a team of scientists at Michigan State University. The material is a combination of caesium, bismuth and tellurium.

When jolted with an electrical current, the temperature of most thermoelectric materials drops by as much as 60 degrees C. It’s thought that the new material could drop as much as 100 degrees C, and be used to cool computer chips, allowing them to operate at higher speeds.

Cooling in computers is a key issue. Fans are not ideal, and while Liquid helium and liquid nitrogen have good cooling properties, they’re not great for home use. The new material could prove a viable alternative.

However, there’s still some way to go before the material becomes commercially available. The scientists are exploring practical issues, such as long term stability, whether the material can be manufactured in large quantities, and whether it will be affordable.

Another possibility for the material is to use its cooling properties in reverse, to turn waste heat into useful electricity.

Michigan State University Email: kanatzil@msu.edu; www.msu.edu/home

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