An Efficient Network Model for Determining the Effective Thermal Conductivity of Particulate Thermal Interface Materials
Particulate composites are commonly used in microelectronics applications. One example of such materials is thermal interface materials (TIMs) that are used to reduce the contact resistance between the chip and the heat sink. The existing analytical descriptions of thermal transport in particulate systems do not accurately account for the effect of interparticle interactions, especially in the intermediate volume fractions of 30%-80%. Another crucial drawback in the existing analytical as well as the network models is the inability to model size distributions (typically bimodal) of the filler material particles that are obtained as a result of the material manufacturing process. While full-field simulations (using, for instance, the finite element method) are possible for such systems, they are computationally expensive. In the present paper, we develop an efficient network model that captures the physics of interparticle interactions and allows for random size distributions. Twenty random microstructural arrangements each of Alumina as well as Silver particles in Silicone and Epoxy matrices were generated using an algorithm implemented using a Java language code. The microstructures were evaluated through both full-field simulations as well as the network model. The full-field simulations were carried out using a novel meshless analysis technique developed in the author's (GS) research . In all cases, it is shown that the random network models are accurate to within 5% of the full field simulations. The random network model simulations were efficient since they required two orders of magnitude smaller computation time to complete in comparison to the full field simulation.
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