The engineering of cooling mechanisms is a bottleneck in nanoelectronics. Thermal exchanges in diffusive graphene are mostly driven by defect-assisted acoustic phonon scattering, but the case of high-mobility graphene on hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) is radically different, with a prominent contribution of remote phonons from the substrate. Bilayer graphene on a hBN transistor with a local gate is driven in a regime where almost perfect current saturation is achieved by compensation of the decrease in the carrier density and Zener–Klein tunnelling (ZKT) at high bias. Using noise thermometry, we show that the ZKT triggers a new cooling pathway due to the emission of hyperbolic phonon polaritons in hBN by out-of-equilibrium electron–hole pairs beyond the super-Planckian regime. The combination of ZKT transport and hyperbolic phonon polariton cooling renders graphene on BN transistors a valuable nanotechnology for power devices and RF electronics.

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The research leading to these results received partial funding from the European Union under grant no. 696656 (Graphene Flagship) and from the French ANR under grant ANR-14-CE08-018-05 ‘GoBN’. G.Z. acknowledges financial support from the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) under grant no. 2013CB934500 and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) under grant no. 61325021.

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  1. Laboratoire Pierre Aigrain, Département de physique de l’ENS, Ecole normale supérieure, PSL Research University, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, CNRS, 75005, Paris, France

    • Wei Yang
    • , Simon Berthou
    • , Quentin Wilmart
    • , Anne Denis
    • , Michael Rosticher
    • , Gwendal Fève
    • , Jean-Marc Berroir
    • , Christophe Voisin
    • , Emmanuel Baudin
    •  & Bernard Plaçais
  2. Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics and Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100190, China

    • Xiaobo Lu
    •  & Guangyu Zhang
  3. Advanced Materials Laboratory, National Institute for Materials Science, Tsukuba, Japan

    • Takashi Taniguchi
    •  & Kenji Watanabe


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W.Y., E.B., C.V. and B.P. conceived the experiment and developed the models. W.Y. and S.B. conducted the measurements. A.D. designed the sample holder. W.Y., X.L., M.R., T.T., K.W., Q.W. and G.Z. participated in sample fabrication. W.Y., S.B., G.F., J.-M.B., E.B., C.V. and B.P. participated in data analysis. W.Y., E.B., C.V. and B.P. wrote the manuscript with contributions from the coauthors.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Bernard Plaçais.

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