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Thermal Interface Material Performance of Commercial Particle-Filled Products with Carbon-Based Nanostructure Inclusions
Keywords: Thermal interface materials, CNT, electronic packaging
To improve thermal transport in electronic packages, commercially available thermal interface materials [TIM], composed of a highly compliant matrix and small conducting particle fillers, are often inserted between contacting machined surfaces. Commercial particle-filled TIM have been approaching their limits of thermal performance, restricted by a maximum volumetric loading of the conductive particle fillers and the low conductivity of the matrix. Integrating multi-wall carbon nanotubes [CNTs], which possess both a high aspect ratio and high thermal conductivity, with other thermally conducting materials holds great promise as TIM. Such mixtures of CNTs and commercial particle-filled TIM may exhibit greater thermal conductivity as a result of an increase in thermal conduction paths across the interface. To experimentally quantify the thermal performance of different TIM, we developed an advanced TIM testing apparatus based on the ASTM D5470(06) standard. Using this system we perform a direct comparison of thermal contact resistance under constant heat flux and variable pressure for commercial particle-filled TIM, in particular Arctic Silver 5, and mixtures of these TIM with different mass fraction loading (0.1% to 25%) of multi-wall CNTs. The goal of this work is to investigate how varying fractional loadings of CNTs to particle-filled TIM affect the bulk performance of the mixture, and to demonstrate the viability of utilizing CNTs mixed with commercial products as improved TIM for electronic cooling in chip packages.
Michael Rosshirt, Graduate Research Assistant
Center for Nanostructures Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, CA


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