Computer processors are notorious for overheating: ask anyone with a laptop. Internal fans can help, but the harder they have to work, the more annoyed we get at the bloody awful noise that they make. What we really need is a better heat sink, the part of your computer that attaches to the CPU to dissipate heat. Intel and UC Berkeley have teamed up to create a heat sink made of carbon nanotubes that is much more effective than what we're using right now.
Carbon nanotubes are handy in a variety of applications. These nanoscale tubes have many uses, including making x-rays safer, creating better holograms and even fighting cancer. They have great heat conductivity as well, but until now, there have been issues with getting them to stick to hot metal surfaces, like those on a CPU. The Intel/Berkeley team, though, found a solution. They bonded the nanotubes to the chip by using a thin layer of organic compounds. The results were astonishing: their experiment resulted in the carbon nanotubes pulling heat off of the chip six times more efficiently than a standard heat sink.
These results are amazing, especially considering that during the experiment, all the nanotubes weren't in contact with the metal layer of the chip at the time. When the team figures out how to fix that issue, you’ve got a heat sink that actually works, even during overclocking. Of course, this means that if a regular computer user wanted to replace their CPU, they’d need a knowledge of and access to carbon nanotubes, something most of us don’t have. But if this new technology goes into new computers, there may never be a reason to change out the CPU: just overclock the processor to make it faster, with no worries about overheating your machine.