thermal interface materials (TIMs)
Heat generated by a semiconductor must be removed to the ambient environment to maintain the junction temperature of the component within safe operating limits. Often this heat removal process involves conduction from a package surface to a heat spreader that can more efficiently transfer the heat to the ambient environment. The spreader has to be carefully joined to the package to minimize the thermal resistance of this newly formed thermal joint.
Attaching a heat spreader to a semiconductor package surface requires that two commercial grade surfaces be brought into intimate contact. These surfaces are usually characterized by a microscopic surface roughness superimposed on a macroscopic non-planarity that can give the surfaces a concave, convex or twisted shape. When two such surfaces are joined, contact occurs only at the high points. The low points form air-filled voids. Typical contact area can consist of more than 90 percent air voids, which represents a significant resistance to heat flow.
Thermally conductive materials are used to eliminate these interstitial air gaps from the interface by conforming to the rough and uneven mating surfaces. Because the TIM has a greater thermal conductivity than the air it replaces, the resistance across the joint decreases, and the component junction temperature will be reduced. A variety of material types have been developed in response to the changing needs of the electronic packaging market.
Thermal Interface Materials (TIMs) for Consumer
Electronics and Information Technology
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