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Scientists predict laptops 'as hot as the sun'

Dell notebooks: now available in Flame Red
Dell notebooks: now available in Flame Red

Over-heating laptops are a real annoyance but don't think that a smouldering Sony or Dell battery is as bad as it can get.

Avik Ghosh, assistant professor the University of Virginia's deparrment of Electrical and Computer Engineering today warned: "If we continue at our current pace of miniaturization, these devices will be as hot as the sun in 10 to 20 years."

Increased processing power and miniaturisation are to blame for the high temperatures - and nanotechnology could be the solution. Ghosh hopes to use esoteric materials to effectively break the laws of physics - specially Maxwell's Second Law of Thermodynamics that states that heat will always flow towards cooler objects.

"Chlorophyll, for example, can convert photons into energy in highly efficient ways that seem to violate traditional thermodynamic expectations," said Ghosh.

The future's bright

A closely related concept, Brownian 'ratchets', will also be explored. This concept proposes that devices could be engineered to convert electrical activity into directed motion, allowing energy to be harvested from a heat source.

If computers could be made with components that operate outside thermal equilibrium, it could mean better computer performance and increased battery life.

We'll settle for just being able to play Crysis without having our pants set on fire, thanks.