Temperatures often over 200 degrees C occur in geothermal and oil production – conventional microelectronics hit their limits there. Researchers have now fabricated compact microchips that can keep their cool even at 300 degrees C. An enormous treasure slumbers in the depths of our planet. Temperatures of up to 7000 °Celsius are thought to be present in the Earth’s core, while at a depth of four to six kilometers (2.5 to 3.5 miles) it is still 150 °C to over 200 °C. These gigantic reserves of heat can be used as a renewable source of energy for geothermal power. The drill bits and bore hole probes employed are high-tech machines. They are fitted with a range of sensors and control mechanisms for their expedition into the Earth’s interior. They are able in this way to be very precisely controlled or autonomously analyze the environmental parameters at depth, and thereby locate suitable – in other words, warm – regions for geothermal production. There is one problem, however: microchips hit their thermal limits when exposed to temperatures over 200 degrees Celsius. Withstanding temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius Scientists of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS have now developed
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