News Copper Conformal Coating Tech Allegedly Crushes Traditional Heatsinks in Efficiency

A Stoner

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Where does the heat go? That is always the limiting factor. When you have a heat sink, it increases area to air contact, the heat goes to the air. This can be increased by forced airflow over the surfaces. Here all you have for surface area is the component, which is a reduced surface from a heat spreader or a heat sink. You can increase the heat dissipation by running more air over it just like a heat sink.
 

Pytheus

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I see several problems with this. First being capacitance. Thin sheet of copper hanging closely over soldered components? Second being arcing currents from high voltage sources. Third, if you layer boards on top of this you're not dissipating the heat into the air then. Instead you're transferring heat between components which may cause issues with heat sensitive components. For example the value of a capacitor can change with applied heat. This may help with cooling certain components but also introduces other engineering challenges.
 
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I'm assuming this is all for consumer grade electronics.

First being capacitance. Thin sheet of copper hanging closely over soldered components?
It wouldn't be any different than adding another ground plane on the PCB. If your electronic device is that sensitive to capacitance, it's probably not a consumer device anyway.

Second being arcing currents from high voltage sources.
Breakdown voltages are typically in the kilovolt range. I don't know about you, but if my computer is generating kilovolts somewhere, I'd stay clear away from it.

Third, if you layer boards on top of this you're not dissipating the heat into the air then. Instead you're transferring heat between components which may cause issues with heat sensitive components. For example the value of a capacitor can change with applied heat.
Which is why manufacturers design electronics based around an expected temperature range, along with some wiggle room. If you design your circuits to exact tolerances, your design sucks.

Also the PCB is already absorbing and distributing quite a bit of heat anyway through the aforementioned ground planes.
 
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Fates_Demise

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Where does the heat go? That is always the limiting factor. When you have a heat sink, it increases area to air contact, the heat goes to the air. This can be increased by forced airflow over the surfaces. Here all you have for surface area is the component, which is a reduced surface from a heat spreader or a heat sink. You can increase the heat dissipation by running more air over it just like a heat sink.
Your not fully understanding the article, they are eliminating the solder, heat spreader and thermal paste and creating a direct contact heat transferring coating.
On top of that most heat is generated downward and this allows a full coating around the object rather than just on top.
This makes the thermal transfer much better.
Adding more air flow does not mean it will get better and better cooling, airflow has its limits, your contact transfer point is what is being improved here.

For example, if I had a component that was only 1 inch, and it generated 5000 watts of heat, I don't care what you do. You will never be able to cool that component with a current day air cooler setup.. even if you made a heat sink the size of a house, the object would still be overheating.

However if you somehow made a system that could pull heat off the object into the heatsink faster....
 
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Sippincider

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If you design your circuits to exact tolerances, your design sucks.
We won't mention a certain fruit-brand, running their processors with just enough cooling, so they hover just below thermal throttling, so they can just make base performance. All so it can be a fraction mm thinner.

Same company is probably salivating over this.
 

TwoSpoons100

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I see so many limitations with this. Clearly created by someone who has never designed a PCB. Ah yes - PhD in mechanical engineering. Willing to bet controlling that first insulating layer thickness will be a nightmare, meaning any boards with controlled impedance are out ( thats things like USB, or ethernet, or DDR memory).
From a heat flow perspective this idea that heat is generated downward is nonsense - heat flows everywhere. And the cross-section of that copper coat must be pretty thin - which limits heat flow.
Frankly this is not much different to relying on the heat spreading ability of the PCBs second copper layer, which is often attached to by thermal vias.

TLDR limited usefulness, hardly revolutionary.
 
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Jesus, guys, it's a research study with more studies planned to explore many of the aspects you're all worried about. If we never explored the boundaries of what seems possible or practical, we'd never get anywhere.
 

Alvar "Miles" Udell

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This could work great in CPUs where the IHS is literally formed directly on top of the CPU instead of using Indium solder or even thermal paste, both of which have a fraction of the thermal conductivity of copper.

It's not going to replace the actual heatsink in a desktop or laptop, or even server, though because of the very poor thermal conductivity of air. It needs that large surface area. Immersion cooling is a different story.
 

Pytheus

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It wouldn't be any different than adding another ground plane on the PCB. If your electronic device is that sensitive to capacitance, it's probably not a consumer device anyway.
At least with a ground plane you have a layer of substraight between the layers. This coating will presumably be right on top of the components. If it's truly grounded then it may not be a problem.

Breakdown voltages are typically in the kilovolt range. I don't know about you, but if my computer is generating kilovolts somewhere, I'd stay clear away from it.
Being is such close contact with components I don't think it would not take much to jump the gap. In the kilovolt range you could see the arc, that doesn't mean there aren't leakage currents your can't see in the low voltage range.

Which is why manufacturers design electronics based around an expected temperature range, along with some wiggle room. If you design your circuits to exact tolerances, your design sucks.
True, which is why I said this would add design challenges.

Also the PCB is already absorbing and distributing quite a bit of heat anyway through the aforementioned ground planes.
True, but like I said, there are insulating layers between the ground plane and components. The ground plane doesn't have near direct contact with the components. Its a difference of having your component on top of a hot stove or in the stove.
 

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