BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A materials engineer at the University at
Buffalo has invented a new thermal paste that will help solve the
problem of overheating in high-performance personal computers and
Created by Deborah D.L. Chung, Niagara Mohawk Professor of
Materials Research in the UB School of Engineering and Applied
Sciences, the paste, when applied between a heat sink and a heat
source, can improve greatly the conduction of heat from the heat
source to the heat sink. Heat sinks are used widely in electronics
to draw away heat produced by the device and prevent the device
"Heat dissipation is the most critical problem in the
electronics industry because it limits the performance, speed and
further miniaturization of microelectronics," Chung explains.
In comparative laser-flash testing, Chung's thermal paste --
composed of carbon-filled organic material -- performed better than
the leading thermal pastes currently on the market. The results of
the testing and the makeup Chung's paste will be described in a
forthcoming issue of the journal Carbon.
"The invented material is superior to all other thermal pastes,
including those involving exotic materials such as carbon nanotubes
and diamond. It even significantly surpasses solder -- the best
material currently available -- for improving the thermal contact
between two surfaces," she says.
The development of heat sink materials has received much
attention for the alleviation of the overheating problem, Chung
notes. Development of thermal pastes for improving the thermal
contact between the heat source and the heat sink has received
relatively little attention, however.
Without a good thermal paste, the use of an expensive heat sink
material is not worthwhile, Chung says. "Even if the heat sink
itself is very high in thermal conductivity, heat conduction from
the heat source to the heat sink remains poor unless the thermal
contact between heat sink and heat source is good," she says.
Additional benefits of Chung's thermal paste are that it is
inexpensive to produce and it also can be used on heat pipes -- for
drawing out geothermal energy -- and within thermal fluid heaters
for reclaiming heat indirectly produced by the heaters.
Chung is in the process of filing a patent for the thermal paste
through the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic
Outreach (STOR). UB mechanical and aerospace engineering graduate
student Chia-Ken Leong assisted in development of the paste.
Chung is director of UB's Composite Materials Research
Laboratory, which conducts research on composite materials for
aerospace, automotive, construction and electronic