Solving thermal management challenges in a minimum space Electronic equipment needs an efficient means of managing and dispersing heat as systems continue to shrink in size. Heat is a killer for electronic systems. As applications get thinner and lighter, this statement has never been more true, yet space and weight restrictions – especially in portable mobile devices – mean that conventional solutions may not be feasible. But it’s not just consumer products such as smartphones, tablets and cameras that are at risk. Communications infrastructure equipment cram more and more complex electronics systems into a small space; electric (Eco) and hybrid cars require long-lasting, lightweight batteries; the advent of the smart factory (Industry 4.0) calls for greater levels of monitoring and control; solar panels (ironically) need to be able to cope with constant exposure to the sun; modern medical devices must be able to be worn comfortably. All these examples require heat to be transferred or dispersed effectively, using a minimum amount of space. Pyrolytic Graphite Sheet (PGS) is a new, ultra-light graphite interface film material, developed by Panasonic, which has a thermal conductivity up to five times greater than copper. It is pliable enough to be cut and folded into complex three dimensional shapes then simply stuck onto the heat source to diffuse the heat or provide a path for heat to flow to a cold wall. What is PGS? Pyrolytic Highly Oriented Graphite Sheet is made of graphite with a structure that is close to a single crystal. It is produced from polymeric film using a heat de-composition process. The hexagonal crystal structure of graphite is arranged uniformly in a horizontal 2D structure see figure 1 (PPT slide 6). Fig 1. Features PGS has a number of features which make it highly suitable as an easy-to-use, space-saving, thermal management solution: it is very thin – available in a range of thicknesses from 100µm down to 10µm – and has excellent thermal conductivity from 700 to 1950W/m.K which is two to five times higher than copper and up to seven times better than aluminium (see fig 2) Fig 2. it is flexible and pliable so it can be easily cut and folded into a complex shape. With a bend radius or 2mm, sheets can be bent through 180 degrees more than 3000 times, and its thermal conductivity is unaffected if sharp folds are avoided; the material is very stable so it is resistant to environmental effects and shows no deterioration with age; PGS can provide some shielding to electromagnetic noise, providing a simultaneous EMI and thermal solution (see fig 3). Fig 3. Usage and Results PGS film is used to transfer heat away from a heat source, or to diffuse or spread heat away from a hot spot (A>B) as shown in figure 4. Fig 4. It can also be used as a highly-efficient thermal interface material as in figure 5. Fig 5. The efficacy of PGS in reducing IC hot spot temperatures is demonstrated in figure. The temperatures at the ABS (Acrylnitril-Butadien-Styrol )surface, the IC and the PCB are shown for two different 70 µm thick PGS sheet sizes. Fig 6. Applications Two examples show how PGS film can be used. Figure 7 demonstrates how heat can be transferred away from an IC (LED) to the casing in a camera design, reducing the heat sinking that is required. Fig 7. Figure 8 shows how when applied in a IGBT or switching FET module, PGS acts as a thermal interface, reducing the thermal contact resistance and thermal soaking required. Fig 9. Alternative solutions. PGS has a lower thermal resistance than silicon sheet material and graphite products from other manufacturers. Silicone grease has a lower thermal resistance, but it has the disadvantage of drying up over time and losing effectiveness. Also it is less easy to apply uniformly so results can be variable. Product overview PGS is available as sheet only, or in combination with a number of standard and high heat resistance adhesive options. Additionally, for higher isolation requirements PET tape is available.
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