Thermal interface materials are integral to any consideration of thermal management solutions. They not only improve reliability and longevity of components without any sacrifice in performance, but also reduce thermal management costs overall by making components easier to cool. In smaller markets including, on the one hand, enterprise consumers seeking to improve the efficiency and longevity of high-performance electronics for industrial purposes and, on the other, private enthusiasts seeking solutions for overclocking personal computers, there’s clearly a specific interest in thermal interface materials.
Even so, demand for effective cooling solutions like thermal interface materials isn’t a demand limited to these sectors or to markets for niche technologies. It’s spreading and will continue to spread from these pre-existing sectors to other consumer groups and to emerging markets throughout the world, particularly in Asia and the Indian subcontinent, as we approach the end of the decade.
This is because thermal management is becoming a more general concern. It becomes an increasing challenge for consumer electronics as a simple result of the increasing speed, energy demands and miniaturization of processors, integrated circuitry and other electronic components. Smaller, faster components run hotter and have less surface area to dissipate heat, therefore demanding more in the way of thermal management. Anywhere a certain standard of performance is expected of increasingly smaller and smaller devices, high quality thermal management becomes inevitable. Today, that’s virtually everywhere. This is why the market for thermal interface materials is one which is growing without any sign of slowing down.
The most obvious thermal management solution for cooling components like processors or heatsinks is the careful application of thermal interface materials like thermal grease or paste. For thermal management solutions, most cooling needs can be met by thermal grease products like those in Shin-Etsu MicroSi’s silicone-based product lines (e.g. G765). Thermal grease is specifically beneficial for applications like cooling surfaces of components which are uneven or interrupted by minute gaps, as well as being generally convenient for its heat dissipation properties.
However, this isn’t the only type of thermal interface material available or appropriate for specific thermal management needs. Besides thermal paste, thermal interface materials include thermally conductive adhesive or double-sided thermal tape, an important subset of thermal management solutions. Applied to clean, even surfaces, thermal tape like Shin-Etsu MicroSi’s TC-SAS-T offers benefits comparable to those of thermal grease.
Moreover, thermal tape has specific advantages of its own. These include physical stability at high temperature, even distribution of cooling material and therefore even dissipation of heat, firm adhesion without mechanical aids like screws, and functioning as an electrical insulator while still effectively conducting and dissipating heat. This is crucial for the safe yet effective cooling of electronic components. In many cases, its use for these purposes is more convenient than thermal paste for the same purposes.
Thermal tape can both firmly affix and evenly cool critical components like heat sinks. It’s susceptible to neither irregular elongation nor loss of adhesion. Double-sided thermal tape can more cleanly, neatly and easily affix surfaces to one another. Similarly, it can be removed about as cleanly, neatly and easily and re-used or re-worked without significant loss of adhesion, making thermal tape a viable and effective heat management option.