New Polymer TIM Developed
As our electronics become smaller and faster, they also become hotter, which is becoming a problem as that heat will limit performance and/or the lifespan of the device. Quite naturally researchers are working on ways to move the heat away from the circuitry more efficiently. Those at the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, and Raytheon Company have recently found a new thermal interface material (TIM) that is a bit different than you may expect.
Two of the factors that influence a TIM's efficiency are its conductance and its contact to the heat source. Many have been looking at better conductors, to move heat away faster, but the Georgia researchers decided to investigate materials that make better contact. In this case that material was a polymer. Typically polymers are insulators, but some can be made to conduct heat by adding aligned crystalline structures to them, giving the heat a path to follow. As the polymer in question, polythiophene, is a conjugated polymer, it has a high thermal stability, allowing it to survive at 200 ºC, unlike other polymers.
While the process used to make the material is not yet fully understood, the researchers are confident it can be scaled up for commercial use. It will be interesting to see how it compares to some conventional TIMs, as some of the best have only 1% contact with a device, compared to the 80% this polymer once achieved in other research. It was that research which led the Georgia researchers to consider polythiophene for this use.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology