February 06th, 2019
Electronic cooling materials are used to regulate the thermal energy generated by electronic devices while operating. Traditionally, this could be achieved using a thin application of thermal grease which enhanced the rate of thermal dissipation between an electronic device and its heat sink. Yet, modern electronic assemblies are producing more heat at faster rates due to their improved functionalities and increasingly constrained device architectures. This requires advanced electronic cooling materials that can assist in heat dissipation without causing loss of electronic functions.
The Importance of Electronic Cooling Materials
Elevated temperatures due to environmental or power-related factors can cause electronic devices to behave erratically and even to fail. If the heat generated by a circuit is unable to dissipate effectively, the conducting and dielectric components within the device may suffer mechanical stress due to differing rates of thermal expansion and contraction. Over time, thermal cycling will degrade the structural integrity of these components and cause loss of functionality. Temperatures that exceed the performance levels of dielectric materials can result in an outright loss of structural or electrical integrity and rapid device failure.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) have been densified to accommodate smaller end-product devices. This demand has impacted general heat-management principles as constricted device designs leave little room for conventional heat sink components. Electronic cooling materials may need to perform in absence of an active coolant system to ensure that the heat generated by sophisticated multilayer PCBs dissipates effectively from a device.
Types of Electronic Cooling Materials
Typical electronic cooling materials include adhesive films and tapes; dispensable gap fillers; epoxies; gap filler pads and phase change materials; thermal greases and gels. Saint-Gobain Boron Nitride has demonstrated the ability to tailor boron nitride (BN) particle and platelet purity and morphology to a wide variety of these thermal interface material (TIM) systems and requirements.
Boron nitride is a synthetic ceramic with outstanding thermal and electrical properties. It exhibits very high thermal conductivity (30 – 300 W/mK) for an electrical insulator (>10kV/mm) with outstanding dielectric strength. This makes it a prime electronic cooling material for low power loss insulation.
Boron Nitride Electronic Cooling Materials from Saint-Gobain
Saint-Gobain Boron Nitride has excelled in two primary electronic cooling material solutions based on tailored BN powder characteristics and properties. The first is a dispensable gap filler which is designed to fill voids in electronic architectures with an elastic and low-wearing barrier. This filler material can dramatically improve the thermal dissipation properties of electronic devices. Saint-Gobain spherical boron nitride powders are specially tailored for this application due to the optimal shape for packing, flowability and low wear of dispensing equipment. By tightly controlling the purity and particle size of platelets and agglomerated powders, Saint-Gobain BN powder also excels in PCB prepreg and dielectric layer formulations. These materials help form PCB laminates and are often stacked in multi-layer PCB structures. Saint-Gobain BN powders help optimize thermal and electrical performance in demanding high power and transmittance applications.