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Electronics news

Thermal transistor switching a million times per second

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (ULCA) have demonstrated a thermal transistor capable of switching a million times per second.

"Precisely controlling the passage of heat through materials has been a long-standing but elusive dream of physicists and engineers," said paper co-author Yongjie Hu, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA's Samueli School of Engineering. "The new design principle is a big leap in this direction. The thermal transistor controls the movement of heat by turning an electric field on and off."

The new thermal transistor is completely solid-state, with no moving parts. It uses the field effect to modulate conductivity when electricity is applied. In tests, prototypes switched at a frequency of 1 MHz - a million times per second.

The thermal transistor can be used to handle the heat generated by powerful but small electrical transistors in computing chips. Yongjie Hu also believes that this technology provides insight into the mechanisms of living cells at the molecular level, helping to understand how heat is controlled in the human body.