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High Thermal Conductivity Insulators Are Used To Help Transfer Heat From A Hot Device

Nov 8

High Thermal Conductivity Insulators are used to help transfer heat from a hot device to the surrounding environment. They can be found in electronic devices such as mobile phones, AIOT, 5G and e-vehicles among others. They can also be used in applications that require a high level of electrical insulation such as computer motherboards, power supplies, LED back lights and LCD-TV’s.

The Efficient Thermal Management in Electronics of a material is how easily it transfers heat. The higher the thermal conductivity, the more efficient it is. It is important to consider a material’s thermal conductivity in combination with its other properties such as its melting point, corrosion rate and thickness when choosing it for a specific application.

A material’s thermal conductivity is a result of the way its molecules or atoms move. Metals, for example, have high thermal conductivity because they have looser molecular structures which allow electrons to move freely. Non-metallic materials, on the other hand, have lower thermal conductivity because their atoms or molecules are more rigid and have less mobility. Other factors that influence a material’s thermal conductivity include its density, which is why some gases have low thermal conductivity, while others like krypton and xenon are denser than air and therefore have higher thermal conductivity.

MIT researchers have now discovered a new method of controlling a material’s thermal conductivity. By using a combination of pressure and temperature, they can modulate its conductivity by up to a factor of 10. This could open the door for controllable thermal insulation that is tuned on demand.

An insulator’s ability to reduce the flow of heat depends on how well its individual layers can prevent convection, radiation and vibration. For example, natural insulators such as fur and feathers function by trapping pockets of air which obstruct the movement of heat. Man-made insulators such as expanded and extruded polystyrene (commonly referred to as styrofoam), silica aerogel, and warm clothes achieve the same effect by creating large numbers of gas-filled pores, pockets or voids that impede heat conduction pathways.

For many applications, an insulator’s ability to disperse heat within a package is not enough. For those situations, high thermal conductivity combined with a reliable dielectric breakdown voltage is essential. Fortunately, a team of scientists at MIT has recently developed a nanoscale composite that combines these features into one layer.

The new material is a thermally conductive substrate that is based on polyimide. It is able to achieve a thermal conductivity of 0.12 W/mK while maintaining an excellent dielectric strength. In addition, it is able to support high temperatures and provides a solution for the mismatch between ceramic and metallic components in an insulated metal substrate. This technology will be key in the future of smart electronics, IoT and autonomous vehicles. It may even lead to the development of heat valves that can be tuned on demand. This long-sought capability would make it possible to harvest energy from waste heat in the home, office, or factory