The discovery has the potential to address a range of technological challenges, including cooling electronic devices and nanodevices, said physicist Zhifeng Ren, a researcher with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston and one of the corresponding authors on the paper announcing the discovery, published Thursday, July 5, in the journal Science.
Thermal conductivity is measured in the unit of Wm-1K-1, used to denote the amount of heat that can pass through a material that is one meter long when the temperature difference from one side to the other is 1 degree Kelvin. The boron-arsenide crystal has a conductivity in excess of 1,000 at room temperature, the researchers reported.
Copper, by comparison, has a conductivity of about 400; diamond has a reported thermal conductivity of 2,000.
Previous reported efforts to synthesize boron-arsenide have yielded crystals measuring less than 500 micrometers - too small for useful application.
But the researchers now have reported growing crystals larger than 4 millimeters by 2 millimeters by 1 millimeter. A larger crystal could be produced by extending the growing time beyond the 14 days used for the experiment, they said.