A thermal management and miniaturization solution for the latest 5G-compatible electronic devices

Vapor Chamber

Vapor Chambers are a type of "metal heat-dissipating component" similar to heat pipes, with the ability to instantly transfer heat by the vaporization and condensation of liquids. Compared to the graphite sheets commonly used in thin electronic devices, they have a higher thermal conductivity and can diffuse and dissipate that heat in an instant. As 5G compatible devices are anticipated to become more widespread, there is a need for heat dissipation solutions for electronics such as application processors and integrated circuits used for communication due to the increase in the data processing of those high-capacity, and high-speed communications. Vapor Chambers are expected to play an active role as a solution for the heat management of miniaturized electronic devices for which thinner, high-performance, power-saving thermal components are required. DNP has achieved the development of a thin Vapor Chamber that incorporates high thermal conductivity, and the flexibility to be applied to uniquely shaped spaces.

Special features of DNP's Vapor Chamber

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DNP's Vapor Chamber

Working principle of a Vapor Chamber (Cooling system)

The Mechanism

Commonly, a Vapor Chamber works to lower the temperature of the device it serves via a repetitive transfer process.

For example, an Integrated Circuit (IC) generates intense heat. The Vapor chamber is separate to the IC, but they’re connected via thermal grease, glue, or TIM. Heat is able to flow through this connection into the Vapor Chamber. When the heat from the IC hits the working liquid stored inside the wick, it transforms the water into vapor which inhabits the chamber.

The heat is then defused, and the condensation formed by the evaporation solidifies back into a cooler fluid. This then moves through the connection, back to the IC. This occurs in an endless loop, continuously drawing excess heat from the IC to offset overheating.

Working principle of a Vapor Chamber (Cooling system)

①The working fluid which is sealed inside (pure water) evaporates when heated.
②The evaporated working fluid (vapor) flows through the chamber, and the heat is diffused.
③The diffused vapor is cooled and becomes liquid again (condensation).
④The liquified working fluid is returned to the heat source through capillary action.
(Steps 1 - 4 are repeated continuously)

The Vapor Chamber is a hollow structure comprised of flat metal plates affixed together, with a capillary tube called a "wick" spanning across, and a working liquid such as pure water sealed inside. The way it lowers the internal temperature of the device is by diffusing heat by means of a repetitive of the process where a heat-generating component such as an IC becomes hot enough for the sealed liquid to evaporate, spread out over the space inside the chamber, and then condense back into a liquid again.

Vapor Chamber Components

A typical Vapor Chamber comprises three components. Firstly there are the plates which are constructed from metal and fixed together to form the top and the base, leaving a hollow space between them.

The second component is the wick, which lines the space formed by the plates, spanning the entire length. This could also be referred to as the capillary tube — the wick is soaked with water. The third component is the connection between the Vapor Chamber and the heat source, which is generally heat transfer grease, glue, or TIM.
These components form a home for the working liquid (generally pure water) which is key to the heat diffusion which occurs inside a Vapor Chamber.

Vapor Chamber Applications

Mobile, Head Mounted & Sensing Devices

The constant insistence towards miniaturization inherent to the electronics industry demands that thermal management technology evolves alongside.

Consumer electronics like mobile devices and head-mounted displays for virtual, augmented and mixed-reality users require chip-cooling solutions that can accommodate high-level heat flux. This is also true for applications across sensing devices, including light source units, cameras and other data-acquiring devices.

Elevated processing capacity utilizing Vapor Chamber technology is increasingly vital as 5g compatible devices take hold of the market share. As data loads have increased, heat dissipation must become more efficient, and installations become more dynamic in terms of the increasingly smaller spaces they are required to inhabit.

Vapor Chambers serve high-level heat dissipation, operating in spaces where traditional heat pipes simply won’t fit. For wearable devices, this allows increased miniaturization and more elite design that leans into comfort and user-friendly features that no longer need to work around clunky heat dissipation components.

Electronics that utilize Vapor Chamber tech may be non-linear, exceptionally narrow, and can flexibly conform to myriad shapes — so user comfort needn’t be compromised to accommodate essential heat dissipation.

Laptop Applications

The global movement towards remote working arrangements is on the rise, and digital nomads demand better, faster and smaller ways to connect or disconnect outside of traditional power source environments.

Vapor Chamber technology is proving to be an essential tool to address the move away from the desktop to the laptop. Thermal conduction and heat transfer in laptops happen due to componentry contacting the substrate or thermal conduction through the wiring or board. It also occurs as heat is transferred convectively from the surfaces to the air and is emitted as electromagnetic waves via radiation.

For laptops, Vapor Chambers are used in conjunction with traditional heat dissipation technologies such as graphite sheets or heat pipes and sinks to lend further rapidity to heat transference. Adding Vapor Chambers into the mix allows heat dissipation across a larger area at a faster rate.

For laptops, interior space is limited. Vapor Chambers can work efficiently within these confined spaces by transferring the heat to heat sinks strategically placed close to ventilation points — without the need for an external power source.

Materials for Vapor Chamber Construction

Vapor Chambers plates are generally constructed with either copper, aluminum or titanium. Water is the optimum working fluid as it has high evaporation heat and is environmentally friendly. The higher the evaporation heat, the higher the cooling capacity.

The wick inside a Vapor Chamber is commonly created from copper powder, which is heated to form an open-grained mass. This is called sintering. Copper-sintered wicks are particularly able to offset gravity; they have elevated power handling capabilities and offer low thermal resistance.

Aluminum, Copper or Titanium?

Aluminum is known to be one of the most corrosion-resistant materials available on the market. It’s also relatively soft and lightweight with high thermal conductivity, making it great at conducting both heat and cold.

Like aluminum, copper is soft and relatively malleable. However, copper is known to have greater thermal conductivity compared to aluminum. Titanium is heavier than both copper and aluminum and it’s also non-reactive. However, the thermal conductivity of titanium is not as high as aluminum.

Aluminum is a popular material for vapor chamber construction, and their popularity has only increased in recent years due to their lightweight and inexpensive properties. Part of this was due to upcoming technology and research involving aluminum attracting attention — because of their cost and considerations involving environmental protection.

How it differs from other heat dissipating components

Heat Sink

Low cost and good heat dissipation.
Low thermal conductivity, heavy and voluminous (making it difficult to miniaturize or make thinner), and if the material is metal, there is a risk of a short-circuit due to its conductivity.

Heat Pipe

Extremely high thermal conductivity.
They require a certain degree of thickness due to their structure (making them difficult to make thinner), they lose efficiency if the heat source is located in a high position, and they are unable to diffuse heat over a wide area by themselves due to their round (pipe) shape.

Graphite Sheet

Lightweight, can be made extremely thin, flexible, and they function as an electromagnetic shield.
Low thermal conductivity compared to heat pipes and Vapor Chambers, the amount of heat they can carry is low, and they are conductive, so there is a risk that fine powder like substances from the sheets can affect electronic circuits.

Vapor Chamber

Extremely high thermal conductivity, the amount of heat they can carry (heat transportability) is very large, and they can be made to be thin. Even when the heat source is located in a high position, they do not lose efficiency (compared to heat pipes). Due to their flat shape, they can instantly spread heat over a wide area.
Higher cost relative to other heat dissipating components.

Special features of DNP's Vapor Chamber

The "Thin Vapor Chamber" developed by DNP has a higher thermal conductivity than graphite sheets, has a thinner profile than heat pipes, and can be flexibly formed making it the optimal component for the thermal management of thin devices.

Special features of DNP's Vapor Chamber

■High thermal conductivity
High thermal conductivity and heat transportability by gas-liquid phase change.
※Around 4000~10,000W/m/K

■Can be made especially thin
Achieved a thickness of 0.20mm.

Can be applied to components with curved or graded surfaces.

DNP's flexible Vapor Chamber
DNP's flexible Vapor Chamber

By taking advantage of the special characteristics of DNP's Vapor Chamber, not only can it be applied to conventional mainstream thin devices, it can also be bent to accommodate devices with complex shapes.
In the case of smart glasses for example, in addition to the CPUs which do data processing, it is also necessary to implement thermal management in several other areas such as the displays, sensors, and batteries. Each of these are assumed to require heat dissipation components to be installed in extremely narrow and oddly shaped spaces, and it is considered very possible that DNP's Vapor Chamber will able to excel at this task.

Anticipated future applications

Thermal management in oddly shaped spaces such as for wearable devices

In order for 5G compatible devices to handle large amounts of data, it is necessary to employ high-efficiency heat dissipation components. Additionally, it is expected that there will be many cases where the spaces in which the heat dissipating components need to be installed will be extremely narrow and non-linear, so the required heat dissipating components must be able to flexibly conform to different shapes depending on the parts of the body where they are worn.
DNP's Vapor Chamber, equipped with both high thermal conductivity and flexibility, is considered to be the ideal component for the heat management of wearable devices.

Heat dissipation to achieve device miniaturization

There's no better path forward to reduce the size of existing products than to reduce the space used by heat dissipation components. DNP's Vapor Chamber can provide great heat dissipation using a minimum amount of space. Also, since it can be used without a power supply, the lack of a fan greatly contributes to device miniaturization and reducing power consumption.

Heat dissipation for power semiconductors for mobility products

One of the main challenges faced by electrically powered mobility products is that they have a relatively short cruising range. In order to extend this range, not only is the battery of course important, but so is the inverter that controls the motor. Power semiconductors, which are key components of these devices, are evolving at a rapid pace. Even though the new generation of power semiconductors which use new materials deal with heat better than conventional ones, heat dissipation measures cannot be avoided. Vapor Chambers are expected to be the perfect fit for heat dissipation components for power semiconductors because they can diffuse heat efficiently even in tight spaces while at the same time being lightweight.

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