Vertical Aligned Carbon Fiber/Polymer Composite Thermal Interface Material

Tech ID: 20-057

Inventors: Yunsong Pang, Tengfei Luo

Date Added: June 25, 2020


A composite thermal interface material that helps enhance heat transfer across two contacting solid surfaces.

Technology Summary

20 057 Graphic

Electronic devices such as cell phones and workstations are essential and widely used. Effective cooling of these devices to prevent overheating is critical to the reliability and lifetime of the system. Current products solve this overheating issue by connecting the electronic package with metallic heat spreaders/heat sinks that have high thermal conductivity to conduct heat away from the electronic devices. However, the roughness of the contacting solid surfaces of the electronic package and the external heat dissipation devices results in microscale voids, leading to large interfacial thermal resistance. This impedes the cooling performance of the whole package.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a unique thermal interface material that helps resolve the problem imposed by the interfacial thermal resistance. This composite thermal interface material is made of vertically aligned carbon fibers which penetrate through a soft material matrix, forming active terminals on the surface of the composite. This unique structure can leverage the high thermal conductivity of the carbon fiber and the compliance of the soft matrix so that it enables good contact with the rough landscape of the solid surfaces and efficiently transfers heat between them. This novel type of thermal interface material leads to superior thermal conductivity (>150 W/mK) and reduces interface thermal resistance thus reducing the electronics overheating problem.

Market Advantages

  • Superior inherent thermal conductivity which is temperature dependent (156.39 W/mK at 40°C and 124 W/mK at 120°C, 152.98 W/mK at 40°C and 121.21 W/mK at 120°C)
  • Carbon fiber active terminal on surface which is used to reduce interfacial thermal resistance


  • Solve thermal management problems of products of OEM and CEM electronic companies in
    • Telecommunications
    • Information technology
    • Consumer
    • Power conversion
    • Medical devices
    • Defense and transportation markets

Technology Readiness Level

TRL 3 – Experimental Proof of Concept


Richard Cox