Reduce Excess Heat and Improve PCB Reliability with Thermal Paste
Thermal paste (also called thermal compound, heat sink compound and thermal grease) maximizes heat transfer between circuit components and heat sinks without electrical conductivity. Thermal paste is used to fill the gap between the CPU (central processing unit) or other heat generating components and the mechanical heat sink. The mechanical heat sink, a passive component made of a conductive metal, is placed over the CPU. Heat is drawn through the mechanical heat sink to its fins, where a fan blows air through to dissipate the excess heat.
Inefficiencies in the thermal transfer occur because two flat surfaces, e.g. CPU and mechanical heat sink, never join together perfectly. Inevitably there is an air gap because of imperfect surfaces. Because air is a relatively bad thermal conductor, this can lead to a reduction in heat dissipation, and as a result, an overheating and failing device. Thermal paste is used to fill that gap and is designed to efficiently transfer the heat from the heat generating component to the heat dissipating device. Although the thermal paste does not have the thermal conductivity of metals like copper and silver, the improvement over the air will increase thermal responsiveness.
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