Graphite heat spreaders can spread heat dissipated from a few chips to the entire smartphone’s surface, which is further removed by natural air convection and radiation. In the 5G era, the heat that will need to be removed in each smartphone will increase by 250%. Thus, a new cooling solution is needed.
Researchers at Kelvin Thermal Technologies, Inc. have developed the world’s thinnest vapor chambers for cooling smartphones, using technologies originally developed at CU Boulder. With thickness less than 0.15 mm, these vapor chambers can spread 15 Watts from a chip to a 10cm x 5cm area with only 2oC difference. The effective thermal conductivity of such a device is over 10,000 W/mK, 50 times higher than the graphite heat spreader. In addition, they are flexible and foldable, with heat fluxes higher than 400 W/cm2, and use low cost manufacturing processes for flexible circuit boards.
Smartphones are the primary application for the thin vapor chambers with an addressable market of about $2B/year. They are scalable for other applications including ARs/VRs, data centers, and power electronics and batteries for future vehicles.
Note: These vapor chambers were originally developed at CU Boulder under, among others, DARPA's Thermal Ground Planes grant and the Advanced Industry Accelerator proof of concept grant from Colorado's Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Kelvin Thermal Technologies is developing the commercial product funded by private investors, R&D contracts, and the Early-Stage Capital and Retention Grant from OEDIT.