Home Technology What is thermal grease, and why does it matter?

What is thermal grease, and why does it matter?

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We use electronic devices on a daily basis. However, most of us have no idea how our devices function and cool down. As it turns out, grease is the secret ingredient of your computer’s cooling system.

Thermal grease allows your electronic devices to work seamlessly without overheating and shorting. We have all experienced an overheated laptop and the noise of the fans working overtime. Thermal grease allows your machine to use its thermal management system to cool down the central processing unit. Without thermal grease, our units would overheat and break very easily.

Thermal grease connects a heat source to a thermal spreading device. It’s a thermally conductive material that is incredibly flexible and effective. You can improve your system’s thermal conductivity and performance with the help of thermal grease.

The grease is often used on the central processing units in computers. There is a large amount of thermal energy within these units that need to be removed so they can perform effectively. If this energy stays within the unit, it could become damaged and eventually broken.

 What does thermal grease do?

Let’s take a closer look at the science of thermal grease. So, the air is a thermal insulator that stops the heat transfer from a heat source to the thermal management device. Air pockets form between the heat source and management system and reduce thermal conductivity. This is a problem. On the other hand, thermal grease allows the heat to penetrate the heat source and get to the surface of the management device. The grease removes these air pockets and allows the thermal management system to work. Genius!

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How do you apply thermal grease?

Thermal grease is applied directly onto the casing of the central processing unit (CPU). The casing is thermally conductive and protects the semiconductor and integrated circuit from thermal grease. The grease can work its magic without damaging the other parts of the CPU.

Thermal grease properties

Thermal grease is electrically insulative, so manufactures can use it in electronic applications. Most thermal grease is made from a polymer base, known as ‘matrix’, and a liquid metal filler. The balance of these two components determines the thermal grease’s thermal and electrical conductivity. Each grease has its own properties and benefits.

Thermal grease with more metal filler will have a higher thermal conductivity and increased risk of shorting the heat source or circuit. You should be aware of this balance when using thermal grease.

Grease is usually a bad thing – whether it’s on your oven or in your hair. We spend copious amounts of time trying to remove grease from our lives. However, when it comes to technology, thermal grease is actually a useful and beneficial thing.

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Christopher Stern
Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and other federal agencies. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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