Owing to their high reliability, simplicity of manufacture, passive operation, and effective heat transport, flat heat pipes and vapor chambers are used extensively in the thermal management of electronic devices. The need for concurrent size, weight, and performance improvements in high-performance electronics systems, without resort to active liquid-cooling strategies, demands passive heat spreading technologies that can dissipate extremely high heat fluxes from small hot spots. In response to these daunting application-driven trends, a number of recent investigations have focused on the design, characterization, and fabrication of ultra-thin vapor chambers for proximate heat spreading away from these hot spots. The predominant transport mechanisms and operational limits have been found to be different under these conditions relative to conventional low-power heat pipes. Noteworthy advances in the fundamental understanding of evaporation and boiling from porous microstructures fed by capillary action, and improvements in vapor chamber characterization, modeling, design, and fabrication techniques are reviewed. Characterization of evaporation and boiling from idealized and realistic wick structures, observation of vapor formation regimes as a function of operating conditions, assessment of fluid dryout limitations, design of novel multi-scale and nanostructured wicks for enhanced transport, and incorporation of these high heat flux transport phenomena into device-level models are discussed. These recent developments have successfully extended the maximum operating heat flux limits of vapor chambers.


Flat heat pipe, ultra-thin vapor chamber, thermal ground plane, electronics cooling, porous media, nanostructured wick, evaporation, boiling incipience, capillary dryout

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J. A. Weibel and S. V. Garimella, “Recent Advances in Vapor Chamber Transport Characterization for High Heat Flux Applications,” Advances in Heat Transfer, Vol. 45, pp. 209-301, 2013.