Vapor chamber technologies offer an attractive approach for passive heat spreading in mobile electronic devices, in which meeting the demand for increased functionality and performance is hampered by a reliance on conventional conductive heat spreaders. However, market trends in device thickness mandate that vapor chambers be designed to operate effectively at ultra-thin (sub-millimeter) thicknesses. At these form factors, the lateral thermal resistance of vapor chambers is governed by the saturation temperature/ pressure gradient in the confined vapor core. In addition, thermal management requirements of mobile electronic devices are increasingly governed by user comfort; heat spreading technologies must be designed specifically to mitigate hot spots on the device skin. The current work considers these unique transport limitations and thermal requirements encountered in mobile applications, and develops a methodology for the design of vapor chambers to yield improved condenser-side temperature uniformity at ultra-thin form factors. Unlike previous approaches that have focused on designing evaporator-side wicks for reduced thermal resistance and delayed dryout at higher operating powers, the current work focuses on manipulating the condenser-side wick to improve lateral heat spreading. The proposed condenser-side wick designs are evaluated using a 3D numerical vapor chamber transport model that accurately captures conjugate heat transport, phase change at the liquid–vapor interface, and pressurization of the vapor core due to evaporation. A biporous condenser-side wick design is proposed that facilitates a thicker vapor core, and thereby reduces the condenser surface peak-to-mean temperature difference by 37% relative to a monolithic wick structure.


Mobile device thermal management, Vapor chamber, Heat pipe, Ultra-thin, Sintered wick, Patterned condenser wick

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G. Patankar, J.A. Weibel, and S.V. Garimella, “Patterning the Condenser-Side Wick in Ultra-Thin Vapor Chamber Heat Spreaders to Improve Skin Temperature Uniformity of Mobile Devices,” International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, Vol. 101, pp. 927-936, 2016.