This section provides overview, applications, and principles of heat sinks. Also, please take a look at the list of 33 heat sink manufacturers and their company rankings.
A heat sink is a component attached to a device for cooling purposes. It is mainly used in electronic equipment to prevent excessive temperature rise.
It is very simple in principle and structure, and does not require physical operation. Therefore, it has the advantage that it is not prone to breakdowns.
Heat sinks are used in combination with electronic components that generate heat. A typical example is CPU cooling for personal computers.
Electronic components such as CPU's use semiconductors and conductors inside. These parts constantly generate heat during operation, and if left unchecked, the temperature inside electronic products rises, melting the surrounding varnish or burning out the semiconductor components. Dissipating these heat-generating parts with heat sinks helps prevent failures due to overheating.
In a normal CPU, a heat sink is installed and then cooled using a fan. These are referred to as a set of CPU coolers.
A heat sink is made of metal arranged in a comb-like structure. The comb is called a fin, and the comb shape increases the surface area and improves heat dissipation performance. The principle of heat sinks is the second law of thermodynamics. This is an extremely simple principle that heat always flows from high-temperature materials to low-temperature materials.
Therefore, if a heat sink is operated alone, it cannot lower the temperature below the atmospheric temperature. This is why it is used for small electronic components and equipment with a high heat resistance temperature. Cooling efficiency can be improved by using forced circulation with a fan or pump in conjunction with the heat sink.
If the heat generation is high, use a device with even higher cooling efficiency, such as a Peltier element or heat pump.
The performance of a heat sink is mainly indicated by its thermal resistance. Thermal resistance is a value that indicates the resistance to temperature transfer, meaning how many degrees the temperature rises when one watt of heat is applied to an object. The unit of thermal resistance is "K/W" or "°C/W".
Thermal resistance varies depending on the surface area of the heat sink and the material used, with the smaller the value being the better the performance. Since a larger surface area reduces thermal resistance most efficiently, heat sinks are designed in a comb or bellows shape.
Another value that indicates the performance of a heat sink is the pressure drop. Pressure drop is a measure of the resistance of air or cooling water passing through a heat sink, and the lower the value, the higher the performance.
Heat sinks are made of metals with high thermal conductivity. Aluminum alloys, copper materials such as brass and bronze, and metals such as silver and iron are used. Copper is the best thermal conductor, but it is heavy and expensive. Therefore, it is rarely used as a material for heat sinks.
Aluminum, on the other hand, is lightweight and low cost, making it primarily used for heat sinks. Aluminum also has high self-dissipation properties, making it more suitable than copper in some environments where airflow is low.
However, other materials are considered when aluminum does not meet the required specifications.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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