Vapor Chambers

Wakefield-Vette’s vapor chambers can provide extended life and reliability for components and applied products

Image of Wakefield-Vette’s Vapor ChambersWakefield-Vette's vapor chambers are used to transport heat over a distance with very low thermal resistance. This is helpful when small heat sources need to be dissipated over a larger area. Vapor chambers are a fluid phase change application because they use a closed loop to transfer heat quickly through evaporation and condensation within the chamber. The particular aspect useful in designs is that vapor chambers transport heat in a plane, more effectively “spreading heat” compared to a heat pipe which transports heat over a distance in a straight line.

Vapor chambers, like heat pipes, do not actually dissipate the heat to the environment, but serve to move heat efficiently within a thermal system. A vapor chamber is made from copper plates (top and bottom) with an internal wick structure which is sealed around the perimeter with a small amount of water inside. As heat is applied to the chamber, the water boils and turns to a gas, which then travels to the colder section of the vapor chamber. There, heat is dissipated through an external heat exchanger, where it condenses back to a liquid. It is the evaporating and condensing of the water that form a pumping action to move the water (and thus the heat) from the area of the heat source to all other areas of the vapor chamber.  

There are a few types of wick structure that can be used within the vapor chamber, but most commercial chambers are classified as mesh or powder. In both cases, the powder or mesh line the copper plate surfaces to allow water flow to/from all directions within the area of the vapor chamber. Often, when mesh is used as the wick structure, different sized meshes are used together to promote condensation or transport of liquid depending on the void size. Vapor chambers are best used in horizontal orientations. The effects of gravity may vary depending on application and orientation, but one must consider lower performance if used above 15° out of horizontal.

During the manufacturing process, copper columns are used throughout the vapor chamber to support the plates that act as the lids and contain the liquid and vapor. The copper mesh is oriented within the chamber pressed against the copper plates. The plates are sealed around the perimeter via diffusion bonding. In some cases, soldering or welding are used, but diffusion bonding allows for the strongest and highest temperature compatible seal for the vapor chamber.  The diffusion bonding process also allows the mesh to bond to the copper plates as well.

Vapor chambers are used in many harsh environments such as computers and datacenters, telecommunications, aerospace, and transportation. They have proven to be robust and reliable over many years in these types of applications.

Many thermal systems benefit from the addition of vapor chambers, especially when heat sources are dense and the final heat exchanger is much larger, and the heat from the source must be spread to a larger area effectively to efficiently use the heat exchanger. Computer applications, such as processors, graphics cards, and other chip-sets, have high thermally dissipated power in a small area. Fan heat sink combinations used in these applications can offer high-performance dissipation to the ambient, but much of the battle is to spread the heat to the heat exchanger with as little temperature change as possible. Vapor chambers excel at this and can transport large heat loads from small areas with very little temperature difference.

Vapor Chambers

ImageManufacturer Part NumberDescriptionAvailable QuantityView Details
STANDARD VAPOR CHAMBER 113.1X81.VC-1131-8175-517STANDARD VAPOR CHAMBER 113.1X81.33 - ImmediateView Details
STANDARD VAPOR CHAMBER 90X90X3.0VC-90-90-3STANDARD VAPOR CHAMBER 90X90X3.054 - ImmediateView Details
STANDARD VAPOR CHAMBER 106X70X3MVC-106-70-3STANDARD VAPOR CHAMBER 106X70X3M441 - ImmediateView Details
Published: 2017-10-25