Can Liquid Nitrogen Really Overclock a Processor to 6 GHz?

In summary, when semiconductors are cooled to very low temperatures, the electrons lose their energy to jump the band gap and the device stops functioning. However, in the case of overclocking a processor, the liquid nitrogen is not cold enough to cause this effect. Instead, it improves the conductivity and reduces resistance in the circuit, allowing for faster speeds. Additionally, the main benefit of using liquid nitrogen in this case is to remove excess heat from the processor.
  • #1
Drakkith
Mentor
22,905
7,257
I just finished reading Absolutely Small, a book on quantum physics. In it the author says that when semiconductors get very cold the electrons no longer have enough energy to jump the band gap, and therefor they do not work.

I have also watched a video of a guy who poured liquid nitrogen onto his processor to overclock it to something like 6 GHz. I was wondering how this is possible? Is it that the processor never gets that cold due to the overclocking?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Drakkith said:
I just finished reading Absolutely Small, a book on quantum physics. In it the author says that when semiconductors get very cold the electrons no longer have enough energy to jump the band gap, and therefor they do not work.

I have also watched a video of a guy who poured liquid nitrogen onto his processor to overclock it to something like 6 GHz. I was wondering how this is possible? Is it that the processor never gets that cold due to the overclocking?

First of all, liquid nitrogen is not "supercold". In fact, it is downright hot in many applications (liquid helium will BOIL when it comes in contact with liquid nitrogen). So at this temperature, one hasn't reached the state yet where the semiconductors (if the band gap is small enough) become an insulator.

Secondly, cooling a circuit typically reduces resistance and improve conductivity (at least in the "wiring"). How it improves on the processor speed, someone with more knowledge on computer engineering will have to chime in.

Zz.
 
  • #3
ZapperZ said:
First of all, liquid nitrogen is not "supercold". In fact, it is downright hot in many applications (liquid helium will BOIL when it comes in contact with liquid nitrogen). So at this temperature, one hasn't reached the state yet where the semiconductors (if the band gap is small enough) become an insulator.

Secondly, cooling a circuit typically reduces resistance and improve conductivity (at least in the "wiring"). How it improves on the processor speed, someone with more knowledge on computer engineering will have to chime in.

Zz.

That's pretty much what I was thinking, that the liquid nitrogen wasn't quite cold enough or that the processor wasn't getting cold enough. Thanks!
 
  • #4
A few things:

CMOS processors use doped semiconductors. The intrinsic carriers (those that are thermally excited from the valence band to the conduction band) are only a tiny portion of carriers. The carriers excited from the donor levels are much closer to the conduction band (or acceptors closer to the valence band). These carriers will freeze out at much lower temperature than 77K.

Low temperature will increase the carrier mobility in the semiconductor, which enables faster speeds.

And like ZapperZ says, the lower temperature will reduce the resistance in the metalization layers, which is where a lot of the heat is generated.

But I think that the main benefit of LN2 in this case is simply better cooling to remove excess heat.

EDIT: actually, I'll revise my first paragraph a little : in MOSFETs, the channel is formed by inversion and the Fermi level is near or above the conduction band edge so even at lower temperature, the channel would still have a significant amount of carriers.
 
Last edited:

What is a "Supercold Semiconductor"?

A supercold semiconductor is a type of semiconductor material that has been cooled to extremely low temperatures, often near absolute zero. This allows for the study and manipulation of the material's electronic and magnetic properties.

What are the potential applications of supercold semiconductors?

Supercold semiconductors have potential applications in quantum computing, high-speed computing, and advanced electronics. They can also be used in the development of new materials and devices for communication, sensing, and energy conversion.

How are supercold semiconductors cooled to such low temperatures?

Supercold semiconductors are typically cooled using cryogenic systems, such as liquid helium or liquid nitrogen. These systems can reach temperatures as low as -459.67°F (-273.15°C), which is just above absolute zero.

What are the challenges in working with supercold semiconductors?

One of the main challenges in working with supercold semiconductors is the extreme conditions required for their operation. This can make it difficult to maintain stability and control over the material. Another challenge is the limited availability of cryogenic resources and the high cost of maintaining them.

What advancements have been made in the field of supercold semiconductors?

In recent years, there have been advancements in the development of new materials for supercold semiconductors, as well as improvements in cryogenic systems and techniques for controlling and manipulating these materials. Additionally, there has been progress in understanding the fundamental physics of supercold semiconductors and their potential applications in various fields.

Similar threads

  • Atomic and Condensed Matter
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Quantum Interpretations and Foundations
Replies
25
Views
995
Replies
6
Views
3K
  • Other Physics Topics
Replies
0
Views
722
  • MATLAB, Maple, Mathematica, LaTeX
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • General Discussion
Replies
9
Views
5K
  • General Discussion
Replies
1
Views
8K
  • MATLAB, Maple, Mathematica, LaTeX
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • MATLAB, Maple, Mathematica, LaTeX
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • MATLAB, Maple, Mathematica, LaTeX
Replies
5
Views
3K
Back
Top