A nanotube material conducts heat in just one direction

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Photograph of nanotubes being created

 Asymmetric conductors could revolutionize cooling systems for computers and other devices.

Heat is something of a nuisance for electrical engineers. It reduces the reliability of electronic devices and even causes them to fail completely. That’s why computer components are liberally smeared with thermal paste and connected to heat pipes, fans, and even water cooling systems.

The goal is to channel the heat away from sensitive components so that it can dissipate into the environment. But as devices get smaller, the challenge becomes more acute—and modern transistors, for example, are measured in nanometers.

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