Two different university research teams have come up with solutions to the problem of all that extra energy that electronics convert into waste heat. (So far, the only use scientists have up with is keeping your lap warm with your laptop.)
Caltech researchers have created a silicon nanomesh (seen at right) that traps heat packets by turning them into phonons (packets of vibration) and transforming them into electricity. Theoretically, this could be used as a net to pull in waste heat and divert it back to a computer’s power source, improving electrical efficiency.
Ohio State University researchers, on the other hand, are working in the field of Spintronics, that is using spinning electrons to record and playback data. Back in 2008, researchers at Japan’s Tohoku University used metal to convert heat into the energy used to spin electrons for this process. OSU has reworked the process using the superconductor gallium manganese, which is better suited for computers. This means that waste heat could be used to actually improve the processing power and memory of a spintronic computer. So…no more warm laps.