Technical Papers

Discussion of Thermal Management

The electronics industry has made tremendous progress in recent years to become an integrated part of our daily lives. Progress has come on two main fronts: increased functionality in a single device and miniaturization of devices. Both of these developments have increased power and energy required or produced, thus increasing heat and the need for thermal management within devices.

There are many different methods to remove or transfer heat energy. Desktop PC’s tend to use aluminum heat sinks with fans. Notebooks utilize heat pipes and thermal interface materials to connect a heat source to a metal chassis in conjunction with fans. More recently, synthetic and natural graphite has been used in enclosed environments such as smartphones, tablets, hyper-slim ultrabooks and other electronics-oriented devices where fans are limited or cannot be used due to space, environment or noise constraints.

Sealed system thermal management is a new and difficult topic when discussing heat dissipation due to system design. In an open system, we can easily use air circulation to exchange heat to the environment. Sealed systems, however, typically have no room for tall heat sinks and inherently do not allow air circulation within the device. The most common thermal management technique in a sealed system uses a thermal spreader or shield, typically made of graphite, to either increase the available surface area with which to spread a hot spot, or, in conjunction with an air gap, shield a sensitive component from a heat source.

Boyd’s discussion of Thermal Management will include various thermal applications within a host of diverse devices and end markets.

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