Thermal interface materials are crucial to improving the overall performance of an active device and the design/selection of a thermal management system. In most practical thermal management protocols, interface materials are used to enhance heat transfer by reducing thermal resistance across contact surfaces. This improves surface contact by forming a continuous path of heat across an interface. This paper focuses on characterizing a thermal control unit (TCU) and employing the thermo-electric technology (TEC) in a liquid cooling system, using selected interface materials mounted on the TEC surfaces. Qualification tests performed on several common interface materials within the TCU are presented in this paper, with results compared to surface-to-surface contact. Tests included the measurement of minimum achievable device case temperature and the minimum TCU thermal resistance as a function of the net heat using selected interface materials. In addition, package minimum case temperature was measured as a function of pressure exhibited on the interface material to determine the TEC optimum contact pressure. Based on results, graphite base interface material was selected as an optimum interface material between TEC assembly and the TCU internal components.

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