SMTA International Conference Proceedings

Evaluation Of Phase Change Thermal Interface Materials By In-Situ Methods and Their Application Dependent Performance Parameters

Author: Scott T. Allen
Company: Henkel Electronic Materials, LLC
Date Published: 10/14/2012   Conference: SMTA International

Abstract: As portable electronic devices have become smaller and their functionality has increased, the need for effective thermal management has become a critical issue. In the electronics assembly market, one preferred method of managing thermal performance is to use a high performance, phase change thermal interface material (PCTIM) between the heat generating device and heat dissipating component (heatsink / heatpipe). These PCTIMs behave as a solid, film-like material that offer ease in handling and assembly, yet melt from the heat of the powered device itself to provide the grease-like performance of a liquid thermal interface material.

Over the last decade, there have been significant advances in thermal interface materials, however when it comes to evaluating their performance in actual applications, there is often much confusion. Standardized test methods which only measure the bulk material properties have been discounted over time, while the increased use of in-situ thermal test vehicles has proven highly valuable in creating a more realistic view of TIM performance. Even with in-situ methods, however, there still exists some misunderstandings on how to properly evaluate PCTIMs in order to select the correct material for a given application.

In this paper we present data measuring the thermal resistance of a high performance PCTIM during in-situ operations and demonstrate how steady state thermal resistance measurements do not provide a complete picture of the thermal excursions experienced by the device and heatsink under powered burn-in operations. We will also present data showing the effects from the application and test methods (TIM thickness; device power/heating rate) and offer guidelines on controlling specific PCTIM parameters in order to optimize the total system thermal performance.

Key Words: 

thermal interface material, TIM, phase change, thermal conductivity, thermal impedance

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