A Suggestion for Simpler, More Efficient, TV Transmitters

A news release from UC Riverside titled Hot New Material Can Keep Electronics Cool got me thinking about how we cool TV transmitters, especially high power solid state transmitters.

Professor Alexander Balandin and a team of UC Riverside researchers, including Chun Ning Lau, an associate professor of physics, has developed a new technology for keeping electronic devices cool. Balandin conducted experiments in 2008 showing that graphene, a single-atom think carbon crystal, is a strong heat conductor. However, it isn't easy to produce large, high-quality single atom layers of graphene. Balandin and his team found that multiple layers of graphene, which is easier to produce, retain the strong heat conducting properties.

Balandin said that in five years, it may also find applications in ultra-fast transistors for radio frequency communications.

Most high power solid state transmitters rely on liquid cooling. The liquid carries the heat to a outdoor liquid to air heat exchanger. This requires pumps and piping and is not terribly efficient. My idea? Put the solid state amplifiers outdoors, perhaps using a heat sink enhanced by multilayer graphene, and run a small coax out to the fan unit and a big coax (or waveguide) back into the building for filtering. Add power and an Ethernet cable for monitoring and control and you've reduced power consumption (no pumps), floor space (amplifiers are where the heat exchanger is now) and increased reliability – less parts to fail. The only tricky part, as I see it, would be protecting the amplifiers from the elements while retaining good heat transfer and accessibility for maintenance.

Should you see an outdoor amplifier in the future, remember you heard about it here first!

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.