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New method to produce more durable electronics products

02.01.2007


Identifying the properties of temperature control materials

The long-term durability of the functionalities of electronic products will be enhanced by the testing method for electronic cooling developed by VTT. The research results also facilitate making consumer and industrial electronics fit into an increasingly smaller space, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of electronics manufacturers.

The new method can be used to test the effectiveness of the heat-conductive plastic material, grease or tape used between the electronic component and its cooling rib as part of the component cooling. The test is carried out using the so-called accelerated tests, applying a comprehensive range of ambient conditions such as frost, hot and very humid conditions.

VTT tested some 30 commercially available temperature control materials with the new method. Using the best of these materials will increase the long-term durability of electronic products. The test also revealed that some of the cooling medium materials may even impair the cooling intended to prevent overheating.

Study based on extensive research

The study of materials used for the cooling of electronics carried out VTT was remarkably extensive on an international scale, and the developed testing method can also be commercialised. The research results will substantially reduce the uncertainty in the industry concerning temperature control materials. The findings also rectify common misconceptions about the significance of these materials in preventing the overheating and damage of electronic components.

Comparable results concerning temperature control materials

The test provided, for the first time, comparable results concerning different types of temperature control materials used for improving cooling. In addition to the thermal conductivity of the temperature control material, cooling – that is, the transfer of heat away from the electronic component – is also affected by the contact surfaces of the material with the component and the cooling rib. The thermal impedance of the contact surfaces depends on surface pressure, the quality of the surfaces and the capability of the temperature control material to adjust to the unevenness of the surfaces.

The companies that participated in the research and development work also received company-specific data about the materials they chose for testing. On the basis of this data, the companies will be able to manufacture products containing electronics of increasingly higher quality and better long-term durability. The work was funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes), ABB, Nokia, OEM Electronics, Sanmina SCI Haukipudas and VTT.

 

 

More information

Raoul Kempe
Research Engineer
+358 20 722 7029