AN ultra-thin thermal management technology developed by the University of Colorado is being commercialised.
The agreement between the University of Colorado and Kelvin Thermal Technologies will allow the latter to develop and market the thermal management technologies, possibly enabling the development of ultra-thin and flexible smartphones, wearable electronics and other commercial and military systems.
Thermal management has grown to become a major constraint in the design of new systems, as faster and more advanced electronics consume more power in smaller spaces. Thermal issues can affect the reliability of a system, its useability if the device becomes literally too hot to handle, energy consumption and battery life.
But current thermal management solutions limit how thin and flexible devices can be.
The new ultra-thin, flexible thermal “ground plane”, whose research was funded by the US Department of Defense under DARPA, is a flat, heat-transfer device that can be mounted on electronic devices to replace graphite, copper and aluminium heatsinks. It can passively maintain comfortable skin temperatures without the use of fans and other temperature control techniques used in larger systems.
The thermal ground plane is at least three times as efficient as graphite and ten times as efficient as copper. Being ultra-thin and flexible, it supports even slimmer and flexible smart phones and wearables.
The thermal ground planes will also have applications like more efficient cooling systems for power plants and temperature control of building and vehicles.