Supply chain
Trends in flexible ceramic thermal conductive adhesive applications
Sponsored by TEAMCHEM
Friday 25 June 2010

Thermal management has always been of critical importance in the high tech industry, but it has taken on an even more critical value as energy savings has become more important due to green concerns and the increasing use of mobile devices. Taiwan-based TEAMCHEM is at the forefront of thermal management through its production of flexible ceramic thermal conductive adhesives that can help reduce heat inefficiencies in LED lights, TVs and even for building materials. Below, Dr. Tod Yeh of TEAMCHEM discusses related trends in the industry.

Q: Green energy is currently a hot topic in a number of industries. In your opinion, what are some of the current trends and challenges for green energy in the high tech industry, and how is TEAMCHEM involved in facing these challenges?

A: In recent years, the awareness of global warming has brought an environmental point of view to a number of industries, including the high tech sector, where research has focused on conducting heat more efficiently in order to reduce carbon emissions and avoid waste.

In the LED industry, conversion efficiency is currently the most crucial issue the industry faces. The conversion rate of light energy output in current LED street lamps is only 20%, so another 80% is still converted from electrical energy into heat energy. This 80% energy depletion is an environment killer, and wasting the opportunity to help a system produce useful output power.

TEAMCHEM has been very involved in this trend through our focus on developing LED thermal conductive adhesives for aluminum panels, by using our flexible ceramic thermal conductive adhesives.

Q: What are flexible ceramic thermal conductive adhesives?

A: Flexible ceramic thermal conductive adhesives provide heat transfer between heat-generating components and cooling devices. The adhesives are made of nano-grade ceramics that serve as a thermal conductive substrate.

For TEAMCHEM, our recipe contains a flexible, special high-temperature resistance resin that gives the flexible ceramic thermal conductive adhesive a tolerance pH range of 3-11 with acid/alkali resistance properties, as well as being sprayable, anti-static and self cleaning. The color of the adhesive can also be tailored according to customer demand.

Q: What types of LED applications are these adhesives targeting?

A: At first it was players in the LED street lamp industry that came to TEAMCHEM for assistance in solving light depletion problems caused by anodized or paint protection treatment of lamp housing. The issue was that this type of treatment prohibited the lamp heat from dissipating properly, resulting in increased internal temperatures and leading to light depletion in the LED epitaxy.

The heat resistance of flexible ceramic heat conductive adhesives is almost as low as metal. In addition, not only can it conduct heat effectively, it can also protect the lamp from the external environmental erosion. In general, it is much cheaper than using a traditional process.

Q: Are there any other new applications that ceramic heat conductive adhesives are suitable for?

A: We are always looking for more applications that are suitable for our solution, and in this way we can support our Taiwan partners. The most powerful winning strategy of Taiwanese manufacturers when competing against South Korea and Japan technology is innovative thinking. In the R&D battle, the only chance to win is to produce products faster and better.

Taiwanese companies have already deployed flexible ceramic heat conductive adhesives in solutions such as equipment housing, internal cooling modules, heat sinks for chipset and circuit board, aluminum heat sink modules and solid-state capacitors generating high temperatures.

Recently we are seeing heat conductive materials being targeted as an ideal solution for numerous applications, such as in LED TVs, monitors, motor coils, solid state capacitors, communication base station cooling modules, desktop/laptop CPU or GPU heat sink modules and even for paint for green building materials.

Q: How does your solution work?

A: This kind of thermal resistance solution will drop the temperature of the main heat source of circuit boards at first, then the heat conducted through cooling fins or cooling modules will also fall and then transmit and dissipate the heat. Comparing this to conventional thermal engineering methods and techniques, this new overall thermal resistance solution can reduce the system temperature up to 7~10 degrees Celsius.

In terms of applying our solution, at present, one kilogram of our spray can cover 40-50 square meters, and the material cost is below NT$90/square meter.

Q: LED TVs are currently becoming very popular. Can you tell us how your solution can be applied for LED TVs?

A: The thing we observed in the development of LED televisions is that although super large, these systems are super thin. The market was dominated originally by Japan's Sony, who was the pioneer, but South Korea's Samsung Electronics has now caught up.

How have these South Korean and Japanese manufacturers been able to make such thin LED TVs? The answer is not in their ability in mold technology, but in heat conduction technology. The Japanese already inherited this ability from their earlier experience in producing thin and light notebook PCs, as they established solid thermal solution concepts.

Success in producing such thin solutions must begin in how fundamentals are thought about; meaning heat conductive modules should not be placed in reaction to produced heat but must be thought about when designing the system.

At TEAMCHEM, we inspect all aspects of the design, from the IC chip, capacitor resistance, keyboard air convection, vent design, housing thermal conductivity and thermal material. This is done to minimize thermal resistance at every step of product development. The final accomplishment is temperature reduced and dissipated effectively.

If done right, a solution can be as thin as a feather. We've seen in it in notebooks, and now we are seeing it with 55-inch LED TVs. The heavy and bulky rear TV cover becomes a beautiful aluminum heat conductive panel.

Once the overall thermal resistance is reduced, the output power can increase and heat still dissipates, so the system's power consumption is also much lower than in the past.

Q: You mentioned building materials as well. How are builders using your solution?

A: Building materials manufacturers discovered that the properties of this kind of flexible ceramic thermal conductive adhesive are different form traditional rigid waterproof insulation paint. Rigid waterproof insulation paint is used to create a thermal barrier, and generate a protective coverings film between the gaps of the roof wall. But the heat cannot be discharged.

The flexible ceramic heat conductive adhesive will reflect the heat source itself, and can also reduce the thermal resistance for heat conduction. The flexible adhesive will penetrate into cracks and continue being flexible, which can effectively prevent the infiltration of moisture. Its anti-static properties will also prevent dust from sticking on the surface. The material itself is lead-free, halogen-free, non-toxic pollution free, and is a biodegradable organic material.

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