Low-cost, High Thermal Conductivity Interface Materials
Navy SBIR FY2018.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2018.1
Topic No.: N181-078
Topic Title: Low-cost, High Thermal Conductivity Interface Materials
Proposal No.: N181-078-0783
Firm: TDA Research, Inc.
12345 W. 52nd Ave.
Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033
Contact: Michael Diener
Phone: (303) 940-2314
Web Site: http://www.tda.com
Abstract: Electronic devices in general, and high power, high-speed electronics in particular, generate substantial amounts of heat that must be removed in order for the device to continue to function. Finned metal blocks and heat pipes assist in removing the heat from individual components and circuit boards. Soft, possibly adhesive elastomers help fill the small gaps between the component packaging and the heat sink, thereby greatly improving the quality of the interface through which heat can flow. Since the thermal conductivity of elastomers is rather poor, they are filled with fine particles of a good thermal conductor. Hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) has long been a material of choice for the filler, since it combines outstanding thermal conductivity with a low dielectric constant. Recently, polymers with small, exfoliated BN sheets have demonstrated tremendous increases in thermal conductivity, primarily due to improved alignment of the hBN in the direction of the heat flow. However, the reported methods of alignment are often not practicable in a manufacturing context, and the polymers are not generally suitable for thermal interface materials (TIMs). TDA will address these issues with a low-cost manufacturing process built around polymers that have long found to be satisfactory for TIMs.
Benefits: The project will develop soft thin adhesive pads with very high thermal conductivity that can be used to form a good interface between electronic components and heat sinks. Since our products will have a superior thermal conductivity to any commercial product that is free from electric conductors, they will greatly assist in cooling electronic components, increasing their efficiency and/or operating range. While obviously of wide use in civilian commercial and retail markets, they are of particular interest to the Navy due to the high density of electronic components used shipboard, particularly in radar and communications systems, but also in the power-intensive directed energy systems that are under development.