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When a laptop or cell phone heats up from overuse, it’s not just uncomfortable for the user. That excess heat also inhibits the device’s performance. Materials with high thermal conductivity help dissipate heat and improve device performance and reliability, but finding a passive cooling option that is both cost-effective and reliable has been challenging, particularly for high-power electronics. With a thermal conductivity of 2000 W m–1 K–1, diamond is the most developed material for passive cooling. But it suffers from high cost, slow synthesis rates, and inconsistent quality. Now three research groups have synthesized crystals of a semiconductor, boron arsenide, whose thermal conductivity at room temperature exceeds the record for all materials except diamond.

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