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NREL researchers develop novel technique to characterize thermal performance to help develop next-gen electronic components

Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a modeling and experimental strategy to characterize the thermal performance of materials and their interfaces using a unique technique: laser-based transient thermoreflectance.

The heat removal path in electronics packaging usually involves multiple layers. These layers and the associated contact resistances can present a significant bottleneck to heat flow.

The laser-based transient thermal characterization techniques are non-contact and non-destructive, with high precision and accuracy. The technique provides critical data on thermal properties with relevance for electronics packaging applications and removing excessive heat.

Working in collaboration with industry partner Delphi, university partners Carnegie Mellon and Texas A&M, and the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NREL used the technique to measure thermal performance of new and emerging TIMs for electronics packaging applications, such as thermoplastics, atomically bonded layers, boron-nitride nanosheets, and copper nanowires.


  • Feng, X., King, C., and Narumanchi, S. (2016) “General multilayer heat transfer model for optical-based thermal characterization techniques,” International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, Vol. 93, 695-706 doi: 10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2015.10.016


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