Thermal interface materials (TIM) play a very important role in effectively dissipating unwanted heat generated in electronic devices. This requires that the TIM should have a high bulk thermal conductivity, intimate contact with the substrate surfaces, and the capability to form a thin bond line. In designing new TIMs to meet these industry needs, alkyl methyl siloxane (AMS) waxes have been studied as phase change matrices. AMS waxes are synthesized by grafting long chain alpha-olefins on siloxane polymers. The melting point range of the silicone wax is determined by the hydrocarbon chain length and the siloxane structure. When the AMS wax is mixed with thermally conductive fillers such as alumina, a phase change compound is created. The bulk thermal conductivities of the phase change material (PCM) are reduced as they go through the phase change transition from solid to liquid. By coating the PCM onto an aluminum mesh, both the mechanical strength and the thermal conductivity are drastically improved. The thermal conductivity increases from 4.5 W/mK for the PCM without aluminum support to 7.5 W/mK with the supporting mesh. The thermal resistance of the aluminum-supported sheet at a bond line thickness of 115 microns has been found to be ∼0.24 cm2-C/W. Applying pressure at the time of application has a positive effect on the thermal performance of the PCM. Between contact pressures of 5–80 psi, the thermal resistance decreases as the pressure increases. The weak mechanical strength of the phase change material turns out to be a benefit when ease of rework and the effects of shock and vibration during shipping and handling are considered. A stud pull test of the aluminum mesh-supported PCM shows an average of 13 psi stress at the peak of the break.

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