Currently most high-end processor coolers are made out of copper, but this may change soon. Researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Oulu in Finland are working on carbon nanotube-based heatsinks.
The scientists say it's as efficient as copper but much more durable and less heavy.
Copper heatsinks are common today and copper is generally considered the most efficient heat dissipating material – from a perspective of both performance and cost. However, with semiconductors shrinking at an accelerating pace, copper could become less of an option: According to Robert Vajtai, a researcher with the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center, the integrity of copper “breaks down” in structures that are reduced to sub-millimeter sizes. “Silicon becomes very brittle and easily shatters, while metallic structures become bendable and weak," he said. In contrast, he said that “nanotubes are more flexible, resilient, and 10 times lighter than any other cooling material available.”