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Thermacore Wins R&D 100 Award for Ultra-Thin Vapor Chamber

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Lancaster, PA, September 9, 2014 – R&D magazine has chosen Thermacore’s ultra-thin Therma-Base® titanium-water vapor chamber as one of the 100 most technologically-significant products introduced in the marketplace over the past year. For nearly five decades, the coveted R&D 100 Awards have been presented to companies creating products that make an important contribution to industry and the world at large. The R&D 100 Award signifies an advanced product that incorporates innovative ideas that will be valuable for years to come. Developed by Thermacore (www.thermacore.com) with the NASA Glenn Research Center under a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract, the titanium-water vapor chamber Therma-Base was designed for cooling proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells used for primary and backup power for mission‐critical space‐based applications.

The titanium-water Therma-Base design is a flat, ultra-thin heat pipe. Heat pipes are passive thermal management devices that utilize the evaporation and condensation cycle of a working fluid (in this case water) within an evacuated, vacuum-tight containment shell that allows heat to be transferred with extremely high conductivity to an area where it can be rejected. Operating without moving parts, heat pipes are a thermal management technology used in military/aerospace and commercial applications because of their thermal efficiency, simplicity and reliability. At 1.2 mm thick, the titanium-water Therma-Base design is among the thinnest vapor chambers in the industry. The award-winning vapor chamber uses a titanium shell and a sintered titanium powder wick structure to provide extremely high heat flux capability (greater than 60 Watts/cm2) and thermal conductivity (greater than 5,000 W/m.K) -- an order of magnitude greater than typical solid copper solutions.

“For PEM fuel cells, the Therma-Base vapor chamber can simplify and improve the reliability of the bulky and complex pumped liquid cooling solutions that typically consume 10 to 20 percent of the parasitic power,” says Nelson J. Gernert, Thermacore Vice President, Engineering and Technology. “The significance of an ultra-thin Therma-Base is the numerous applications this technology enables. For example, it can be used for direct die attachment to the electronics, resulting in improved thermal spreading, which allows for further miniaturization of the electronics for both military/aerospace and commercial applications. The R&D 100 Award is a tremendous honor and validation of the Thermacore Therma-Base vapor chamber technology and what it can accomplish.” 

More specifically, when the Therma-Base is constructed with materials that match the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of the electronic materials, the Therma-Base can be used in applications for direct die attachment, assuring reliability of the electronics while increasing performance.

To further demonstrate the technology’s capability, a CTE-matched Therma-Base vapor chamber that uses a copper/moly/copper system has been applied to transmit/receive modules used in radar applications. Initial modules made with this technology have demonstrated a 40 percent reduction in junction-to-case temperature difference. Other applications for direct die attachment with CTE-matching Therma-Base include light emitting diodes (LEDs), batteries, power amplifiers, monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMIC), insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs), traveling wave tubes (TWTs), and spin-filter transistors (SFTs), among others.

The 52nd annual R&D 100 banquet and awards presentation will honor this year’s winners on November 7, 2014, at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. To learn more about the Thermacore Therma-Base vapor chamber technology and the other award winners, read the September/October issue of R&D magazine.

 
 
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