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Phase change materials (PCM) are often used as matrix materials for thermal interface applications, because they are solid at room temperature, and soften when heated. They can fully fill the gaps of contact surfaces, therefore providing a thin bondline and high reliability without pump-out issues. Adding a TC filler to the PCM matrix, forms a phase change composite with high heat transfer performance that can solve these pump-out issues.
We offer thermally conductive Phase Change Materials in both pad and paste formats. These products are designed to minimize thermal resistance at interfaces and maintain stable performance through the rigorous reliability testing required for long product life applications.
Based on a robust polymer PCM structure, these materials exhibit effective wetting properties during typical operating temperature ranges, resulting in very low surface contact resistance. They provide superior reliability and maintain low thermal impedance, making PCM desirable for high-performance integrated circuit devices.
Typical phase change material Applications include:
One can say that it comes down to preference, but it really doesn't. Phase change materials are hands down the best materials you can use as thermal interface IF the application parameters allow it. They are clean, efficient,can achieve the thinnest bondlines out of any other materials and are silicone free.
Additionally they come into both paste (stencil print and dispence) and pad form (0.2~1mm thickness) and their Silicon free chemistry can achieve a bondline of 20~30mm making it the thinnest, cleanest and most reliable bondline in the market. Does this make thermal frease bad? Definitely not. Grease is great for all the other application types that PCM can't cover due to the temperature restrictions.
Phase change materials are made for post reflow operations. They activate at 45°C and are not suitable for 245 - 260°C. Those Silicone free chemistries rely on thermally conductive fillers such as ZnO, Aluminium and Alumina to achieve their thermal properties. Their pad form is clean and efficient and allows for a very thin bondline, down to 20-30μm.
Precise and reliable application requires spring pressure or initial heat to be applied to reduce the bond line thickness.Their nature doesn't work for high temperature applications but if the temperatures allow, it is a much better alternative for thermal grease since they are not prone to pump or dry out and are not "messy" at all. They definitely tick the boxes for conformable and reliable.
Compared to Silicone grease, PCM have longer molecular chains with high molecular weight and surface tension ensuring a robust polymer structure and a stable filler-polymer matrix. The H steric hindrance provides a Rigid structure that ensures low filler migration and separation that at the same time limits the material mobility and pump out.
On the other hand, the tried and proven thermal grease has good flowability and low contact resistance but its short chains and Si-O-Si structures create a less rigid structure that has potential for migration, dry out and pump out issues.