Thermal Interface Materials (TIMs) with High Thermal Conductivity Particles

Event Date: April 3, 2018


  • Rajath Kantharaj


  • Jackson Santana (Fall 2018-Spring 2019)



Joint project with Prof. Aaron Morris and Prof. Carl Wassgren

Project Overview:

Thermal management of electronics is one of the biggest engineering challenges of this decade, as billions of transistors are put in each microprocessor and the increasing density leads to increased temperatures. TIMs, particularly high thermal conductivity particle-filled polymer composites, are conformable materials that aid in efficient heat conduction from the microprocessor chip to the heat sink through numerous interfaces present in an electronics package. This project is focused on advancing the fundamental understanding of microstructural changes in the TIMcaused by its application process, and its impact on thermal conduction in the material, using validated models. Traditionally, TIM application process, namely dispensing and squeezing, is empirically optimized by investigating a select few dispense patterns (i.e., initial state) and their squeezing, and thermal characterization. The project outcomes will enable parametric optimization of the material application procedure and eliminates tedious experimentation. The investigation follows a combined state-of-the-art experimental and modeling approach, for the purpose of validating the microstructure and thermal conduction models. Three-dimensional X-ray micro-computed tomography (XRCT) imaging is used to reveal the TIM microstructures in the dispensed and squeezed states, which will help in understanding of the particle rearrangements in the material. These are compared with discrete element method (DEM) simulations of the squeezing process for validation. Infrared (IR) microscopy-based thermal property characterization will be similarly used to validate on-going efforts in TIM thermal conduction modeling.


XRCT reconstruction of particle distribution in a mock TIM consisting of ~100 micron diameter copper particles in a UV curable epoxy


Selected Related Publications: