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Experimental and Computational Characterization of Vapor Chamber Heatsinks
Keywords: Vapor Chamber, Heatsink, Characterization
With the increasing use of vapor chamber heatsinks in electronics, it is important to be able to accurately measure their performance, and also to be able to adequately represent them within computational thermal models. No standard currently exists to specify a common method for heatsink testing and characterization, so care must be taken in the design of the experiment and test fixtures in order to obtain accurate, repeatable, and meaningful results. Boundary conditions must be defined in accordance with the goals of the experiment and the intended use for the data. Elements such as airflow bypass, and airflow velocity distribution must be considered in the duct design. Equally important is the accurate measurement of heat flow into the heatsink itself, which requires careful design and also an accounting of the heat losses that inevitably occur. This paper details an experimental procedure used to characterize the steady-state thermal performance of a vapor chamber heatsink assembly. The presentation will emphasize the methodology and process used in the design of the experiment and the procedure for generation of a computational model of the vapor chamber heatsink. A custom test fixture was designed and used to characterize the performance of a vapor chamber heatsink assembly for a number of power levels, air velocities, and orientations. A heatsink with a solid aluminum base was also evaluated to determine the improvement that could be obtained by using a heatsink with a vapor chamber base. A computational model of the heatsink and the vapor chamber is constructed and refined. The experimental results are used to calibrate the computational model.
Darryl Moore, Senior Thermal Engineer
Electronics Cooling Solutions
Santa Clara, CA

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