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Phase-Change-Materials-Based Thermal Management for Handheld Devices
Keywords: Phase Change Materials, Latency, Mobile Devices
Breakthroughs in a number of enabling technologies are transforming mobile devices into powerful multifunctional and heavy computing platforms. Ever-increasing demand, from market, for speed and functionalities are leading to more heat generation; which in addition fluctuates significantly during use. However, due to their compact design and lightweight requirement, these devices become more and more thermally limited. On needs to control not only the CPU temperature, but the device skin temperature as well a significant rise of either can lead to CPU throttling. Often the latter is the limiting factor. Active cooling is not attractive in these applications because of constrains on acoustic noise, power consumption, cost, size and weight. Traditional thermal solutions relying purely on heat-conduction are fairly inefficient and ineffective in handling transient changing thermal loads. Solutions based on phase change materials (PCM)-based thermal solutions are a very promising technology for these devices. A PCM material with reasonably high latency, and well-chosen transition temperatures, can be used for managing some of the excess power during periods of heavy activities in these handheld applications. The melted PCM can re-solidify during periods of low activities, and be available for the next surge in power. This paper will review various phase change materials and product constructions that may be used in handheld applications. A numerical case study and an experimental test will also be presented to demonstrate performance characteristics of using a PCM based thermal solution to improve device skin temperatures during transient thermal conditions.
Yuan Zhao, Engineer Manager & Sr. Principal Engineer
Henkel Electronic Materials, LLC.
Irvine, CA

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