Thermal interface materials (TIMs) are specialized materials used in the semiconductor industry to improve heat transfer between two surfaces, typically between a heat source (such as a microprocessor) and a heat sink.
TIMs are used to fill the microscopic gaps between the surfaces, providing a low-resistance path for heat to flow from the heat source to the heat sink. They help to reduce the thermal resistance at the interface, which improves the thermal performance of the device and reduces the risk of overheating and failure.
There are several types of TIMs available in the market, including thermal greases, thermal pads, phase-change materials, and thermal interface tapes. Each type of TIM has its own unique properties and is suitable for different applications.
Thermal greases are typically made of silicone or metal oxide particles suspended in a carrier fluid, and are applied to the surface using a syringe or other dispensing tool. They offer high thermal conductivity, low thermal resistance, and are easy to apply and remove.
Thermal pads are made of a soft, compressible material such as silicone or polyurethane, and are designed to conform to the surface contours of the heat source and heat sink. They offer a high level of thermal conductivity and are easy to install, but may not provide as much heat transfer as other TIMs.
Phase-change materials are solid at room temperature but melt and become liquid when exposed to heat, filling the microscopic gaps between the surfaces. They offer high thermal conductivity and can conform to the surface contours, but may require careful handling and installation to avoid mess and spills.
Thermal interface tapes are pre-cut sheets of double-sided tape with a layer of thermally conductive material sandwiched between them. They offer a convenient and easy-to-use option for attaching heat sinks to heat sources, but may not provide as much heat transfer as other TIMs.