Intro to Thermal Management
Old inventions are reinvented to be more efficient and utilize new technology to make them more efficient, smaller, lighter, or smarter. However, as products evolve so do the challenges we face designing them. One of the biggest challenges that all electronics face is Thermal Management; Heat is the enemy of circuit boards and processors alike.
Challenges with Thermal Management & Solid State Lighting
A good example the challenges of thermal management can be seen in the introduction of the LED chip into Solid State Lighting. While more traditional style lamps produce light and heat outwards, the LED produces light, but drives the heat back into the circuit board. This heat needs to then be transferred into the heat sink. An effective way to do this is to introduce a thermal interface material (TIM) between the heat sink and the board.
Old inventions are reinvented to be more efficient and utilize new technology to make them more efficient, smaller, lighter, or smarter.
Thermal interface materials (TIMs) are thermally conductive materials designed to fill microscopic irregularities and air gaps which decrease thermal conductivity. There are various types of TIMs available on the market today, each product results in different W/mK thermal conductivity and a different thermal resistance.
Thermal Management to Improve LED Lifetime & Output
The LED lifetime and output is directly related to the junction temperature (highest temperature of the actual semiconductor in an electronic device). By lowering the junction temperature, the performance and longevity may be improved. Thermal interface materials allow for heat to be transferred effectively, which results in lower junction temperatures. Having an effective TIM will enhance the life expectancy of the overall LED system and create opportunities to use less LEDs that are driven with more power.
Such is the case with most electronics, the more heat that is drawn away the longer the life expectancy of the device or more power can be utilized.