Traditional thermal interface materials have always provided electrical isolation at the expense of thermal resistance. Electrical isolation requires the use of dielectric materials within the construction, and exacts a tremendous cost on the thermal performance of the interface material.
The performance of the interface material can be greatly improved by eliminating the dielectric materials and including only conductive materials in the formulation. Since microprocessors provide electrical isolation of the die within the package, computer system designers are often able to choose from a variety of lower thermal resistance interface materials. Computer system designers may consider thermal interface materials that provide dielectric strength for densely populated circuit boards.
As circuit designs become increasingly dense, system designers may utilize electrically isolating thermal interface materials to ensure that a misplaced interface does not short out the system. When evaluating electrically isolating materials, the dielectric strength should also be considered. The material must withstand the worst case voltage spikes possible in the system to guarantee system dependability.