Heat pipes and vapor chamber heat spreaders offer a potential solution to the increasing thermal management challenges in thin-form-factor mobile computing platforms, where efficient spreading is required to simultaneously prevent overheating of internal components and formation of hot regions on the device exterior surfaces. Heat pipe performance limitations unique to such ultrathin form factors and the key heat transfer mechanisms governing the performance must be characterized. A thermal resistance network model and a detailed 2-D numerical model are used to analyze the performance of heat pipes under these conditions. A broad parametric study of geometries and heat inputs using the reduced-order model helps delineate the performance thresholds within which the effectiveness of a heat pipe is greater than a comparable solid heat spreader. A vapor-phase threshold unique to ultrathin heat pipes operating at low-power inputs is observed. At this threshold, the vapor-phase thermal resistance imposed by the saturation pressure/ temperature gradient in the heat pipe causes a crossover in the thermal resistance relative to a solid heat spreader. The higher fidelity numerical model is used to assess the accuracy of the resistance network model and to verify the validity and applicability of each assumption made regarding the transport mechanisms. Key heat transfer mechanisms not captured by the reducedorder thermal network models are identified. These include the effects of boundary conditions on the interface mass flux profile, convective effects on the vapor core temperature drop, and 2-D conduction on smearing of evaporation/condensation mass flux into the adiabatic section.


Flat heat pipe, low heat flux, numerical model, performance limits, ultrathin vapor chamber

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Y. Yadavalli, J. A. Weibel, and S. V. Garimella, “Performance-Governing Transport Mechanisms for Heat Pipes at Ultra-thin Form Factors,” IEEE Transactions on Components Packaging and Manufacturing Technology Vol. 5, pp. 1618-1627, 2015.