May 23, 2022

New electronics cooling tech enables 740% increase in power per unit volume

Posted by in categories: engineering, materials

Tarek Gebrael, a UIUC Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, explains that the existing solutions suffer from three shortcomings – first, they can be expensive and difficult to scale up. Second, conventional heat spreading approaches generally require that the heat spreader and a heat sink be attached on top of the electronics device. Unfortunately, in many cases, most of the heat is generated underneath the electronic devices, meaning that the cooling mechanism isn’t where it is needed the most.

And third, Gebrael explained, the heat spreaders can’t be installed directly on the surface of the electronics. They require a layer of “thermal interface material” sandwiched between them to ensure good contact. However, due to its poor heat transfer characteristics, that middle layer also introduces a negative impact on thermal performance.

Now, researchers have come up with a new solution to address all three of those problems. First, they used copper as a primary material, which is relatively inexpensive. They then made the copper coating that entirely “engulfs” the device, says Gebrael, “covering the top, the bottom, and the sides… a conformal coating that covers all the exposed surfaces” – so that no heat-producing regions are neglected. And finally, the new solution removes the need for a thermal interface material and a heat sink.

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