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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 is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.