Thermal interface materials for automotive electronic control unit: Trends, technology and R&D challenges

K. C. Otiaba, N. N. Ekere, R. S. Bhatti, S. Mallik, E. H. Amalu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The under-hood automotive ambient is harsh and its impact on electronics used in electronic control unit (ECU) assembly is a concern. The introduction of Euro 6 standard (Latest European Union Legislation) leading to increase in power density of power electronics in ECU has even amplified the device thermal challenge. Heat generated within the unit coupled with ambient temperature makes the system reliability susceptible to thermal degradation which ultimately may result in failure. Previous investigations show that the technology of thermal interface materials (TIMs) is a key to achieving good heat conductions within a package and from a package to heat sinking device. With studies suggesting that current TIMs contribute about 60% interfacial thermal resistance, a review of engineering materials has become imperative to identify TIM that could enhance heat transfer. This paper critically reviews the state-of-the-art in TIMs which may be applicable to automotive ECU. Our review shows that carbon-nanotube (CNT) when used as the structure of TIM or TIM filler could considerably advance thermal management issues by improving heat dissipation from the ECU. This search identifies chemical vapor deposition (CVD) as a low cost process for the commercial production of CNTs. In addition, this review further highlights the capability of CVD to grow nanotubes directly on a desired substrate. Other low temperature techniques of growing CNT on sensitive substrates are also presented in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2031-2043
Number of pages13
JournalMicroelectronics Reliability
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


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