Ask the ASC Expert Ask the ASC expert: RF Thermal Management

Written by: John Bushie on August 5, 2019

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John Bushie, ASC's Director of Technology talks about solutions heat dissipation solutions for today's ever-increasing RF power requirements.


John Bushie with American Standard Circuits here talking about RF thermal management.

When we talk about RF thermal management, it's a result of the increasing power requirements and the need to dissipate heat to move it away from either the device or the circuitry in some of these high power applications.

Traditionally it's been pre bonded metal backed materials using a variety of metals from copper to brass to aluminum.

Basically from a processing standpoint, copper being the most similar standard circuit board material to aluminum which requires a little bit more technical finesse.

It's generally been the ultimate in performance and unfortunately it's also the ultimate in cost as well.

There's post bonded solutions where we make the circuit board and the carrier or heatsink separately. That could be made out of a variety of materials, and the real choice becomes is how we join or marry that board to that heatsink. That could be done with a traditional method which uses solder to join those two solderable surfaces together, or it can use a conductive adhesive.

Now the fundamental difference in the conductive adhesives is the resin system that holds the whole thing together.

Most setting resin systems have been used and continued to be used in a wide variety of thermally and electrically conductive bonding adhesives.

ASC also uses an elastomeric very high temperature system that allows for very flexible conductive joints.

The last technology we're going to talk about is coining.

It's gaining more and more popularity.

It reduces the amount of heat sink area that you have on a panel but it also potentially reduces the cost.

By using a fairly small coin exactly where you need it extending from the top of the board to the bottom of it the end user can move heat specifically away from his device through some other surface to dissipate it.

So to recap, the ultimate performance in price usually pre bonded materials.

A good moderate media medium choice is post bonding. It offers very good performance for a relatively reasonable cost, and the potential is there depending on how it's applied for coin technology to offer enough performance at a cost that's reasonable to the end-user.

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