Making Electronics More Efficient: ThermAvant
ThermAvant, a multiyear NSF-CAP participant, is the leading developer of oscillating heat pipe (OHP) heat spreaders and heat sinks. Thermally sensitive electronics degrade and ultimately fail if operated above their critical temperatures. ThermAvant’s super-thermally conductive OHP solutions acquire and dissipate device-generated heat at up to 50x’s higher rates than conventional materials, and in doing so maintain acceptable temperatures even in challenging operating environments. Miniaturization of electrical systems across all sectors, from consumer electronics to radar communications to hybrid vehicles, is being driven by the rising power density of integrated circuits. The smaller the circuits, the more challenging it is to cool. Joe Boswell, co-founder and president of ThermAvant explains, “It’s very difficult to take large amounts of heat off of small areas using conventional materials without hot spots from forming. We enable the transfer of heat from a small device to a larger heat sinking area with minimal temperature difference between the two.”
ThermAvant was recently selected to work with the Air Force Research Laboratory and a leading satellite contractor to improve space-based electronics cooling with the OHP technology. Existing satellite electronics run at relatively low power because the lack of air and wind in space makes it difficult to dissipate devices’ waste heat. ThermAvant aims to remove this thermal constraint and enable higher powered, state of the art microprocessors to be deployed. By increasing the processing and power capabilities of satellite payloads, the value of every satellite launched for both commercial and military applications can be significantly improved.
Simultaneously, ThermAvant is actively pursuing other military applications for the Army, Air Force and Navy where warfighters seek higher powered electronics in ever smaller packages. In addition to government customers, ThermAvant recently began commercial supply of OHP-based solutions to commercial customers.
When asked about the future of ThermAvant, Joe told us, “With Support from Larta’s Commercialization Assistance Program, we decided to initially focus our product development and marketing efforts on applying its technology in niche military applications where extreme conditions and high power density demands are uniquely well suited for the technology’s benefits. As the commercial market for high power density devices increases, ThermAvant hopes to leverage its experience and expertise in military applications to the $10billion per year commercial electronics thermal management market.”