Thermal interface materials (TIM) are materials with high thermal conductivity, which act as an interface between the heat sink and the heat source. The heat sink removes heat from heat source with the help of thermal interface materials. The process involves removal of heat and release into the ambient environment by replacing the thermally insulating air between two surfaces. Thermal interface materials possess some key properties, such as high thermal conductivity, minimum thickness, and no leakage from the interface, which help them to deliver high thermal performance. Moreover, they add mechanical strength to the interface between the heat sink and heat source.
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Thermal interface materials remove the interstitial air or gap from the junction which acts as an insulator. They increase the conduction of heat between the surfaces in various electronic equipments. In order to eliminate overheating in electronic equipment, they increase the conductivity of heat between a hot component and heat spreader, thus efficiently releasing the heat to a large surface area. Thermal interface materials (TIM) can be found in the form of: thermal grease, phase change materials, soft metal foils, elastomeric pads, adhesives, thermal gels, pastes and liquids, graphite, solder, liquid metals, etc.
Thermal interface materials have potential application in the electronics industry due to their efficient heat transferring function. In telecommunication and information technology applications, thermal interface materials have extensive use for cooling purposes. They are widely used to enhance heat conductivity in computer components such as CPU, graphic cards, hard disks, and chipsets. From such heat sensitive computer components, heat is dispersed by thermal interface materials in the heat sink coolers. Thermal interface materials are also used in LED lights used in the automotive industry to get brighter light with energy efficiency. Thermal interface materials have significant application in the transportation industry. Use of electronic vehicles in transportation requires an efficient thermal management system, which promotes wide use of thermal interface materials. Advanced medical instruments and medical lasers also use the heat management solution provided by thermal interface materials. In addition to this, industrial computing, defense and aerospace devices, consumer electronics, and wireless networking are the major application segments for thermal interface materials.
The global market for thermal interface materials is dominated by North America, followed by Asia Pacific. The huge growth of telecommunication and information technology in North America has generated a healthy market for thermal interface materials. In the next few years, a growing trend is anticipated to continue.
Asia Pacific has witnessed tremendous growth in the information technology and communication industry over the past few years, leading to a rising demand for thermal interface materials. As a result of that a mature market has emerged in the developing countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and India in recent years. With the enhancement of end-user industries, this region is expected to show excellent market growth over the forecast period. Europe is also a growing market for thermal interface materials with the third largest share in the global market. A rising market trend is predicted to continue over the next few years. The Middle East and Africa, and Latin America are emerging markets in TIM with substantial industrial growth in recent years in these regions.
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Demand for thermal interface materials is being driven largely by the requirement for faster computing. Increasing global awareness about energy efficient lighting systems is increasing the use of LED lights over conventional lights, which in turn is driving the use of thermal interface materials in market. Furthermore, advancement in the medical industry is supporting the rapid growth of the thermal interface materials market.
Some of the major players that manufacture thermal interface materials include Parker Chomerics, Indium Corporation, Dow Corning, Laird Technologies, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, Honeywell International Inc., and Zalman Tech Co.