I-Corps: Thermal Interface Materials with Ultrahigh Thermal Conductivity and Superior Conformability for Effective Cooling of Electronic Components
There is an increase in demand for smaller, lighter and more efficient electronic devices to simplify our everyday life, protect the environment, expand global access to education and decrease energy consumption. However, overheating in these devices has been a key issue which has prevented existing technology from meeting key application requirements in this space, and has prevented the necessary improvements in technology for future electronic devices to fully meet the small size, high power and high reliability specifications for personal applications. The range of materials available to promote device cooling has been largely unchanged for more than a decade and their performance improvements are lagging behind the advances made in electronics applications. This team has developed a new material, which can manage heat very effectively and as a result enable electronics to operate faster, more accurately and reliably. Electronics industries dealing with high-power processors, high-intensity LEDs, vehicle electronics, telecommunication infrastructure, and semiconductor chip packaging can significantly benefit from our new technology. In addition, the use of batteries in automotive and home-power landscapes is exponentially increasing. Overheating remains a critical issue affecting the safety and limiting the performance of such batteries. Alternative power generation technologies such as wind and solar also rely on robust power storage solutions ? all of which will be enhanced by access to next-generation thermal management technology. This team seeks to commercialize a novel Thermal Interface Material (TIM) which will be useful in cooling next-generation microprocessors, circuits and electronic devices. The thermal performance of current generation TIMs peaks at a conductivity value of approximately 80 W/(m.K). The proposed new material has ultra-high thermal conductivity much greater than 250 W/(m.K). The project involves the use of ceramic nanosheets functionalized with soft ligands, which are then electrocodeposited in a metal matrix, creating a soft and compliant metal which retains its high conductivity. The proposed technology therefore provides a hybrid nanocomposite which is a combination of metallic, ceramic, and organic microstructures. The team expects that as demands for improved energy efficiency and thermal management continue to increase that the proposed technology may have a wide-ranging positive impact on lowering the energy used for cooling purposes, among other benefits.