Photonics

ACT has solutions for Photonics Cooling Applications

LED Cooling

Compared to CFL’s and other lighting technologies, Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting is leading the way to a “greener” lighting solution. LED lighting advantages include:

heat pipe printed circuit board, led heat pipes, metal core printed circuit boards

Figure 1. Heat pipe embedded Metal Core Printed Circuit Board (MCPCB). ACT’s new heat pipe embedded MCPCBs efficiently spread heat from LED devices, providing a reduction of 45% in thermal resistance compared to pure aluminum MCPCBs.

  • Lower power consumption
  • Longer lifetime
  • More compact
  • No use of Mercury

Effective thermal management is key to realizing the advantages of LED lighting. The operating temperature of the LED largely impacts the lighting color and the overall lifetime. As the LED industry shifts to Higher Brightness LED’s (HBLED) and higher density LED arrays, more effective thermal management solutions are required to maintain the LED junction level operating temperature. Although standardization is common at the junction and printed circuit board level, the variety of lighting applications leads to highly customized thermal solutions at the heat sink level.

During LED operation, 70-80% of applied electrical power is converted to waste heat.  How this heat is removed from the LED has a major impact on device life: Every increase of 10ºC above the maximum operating limit can decrease the operating life of LEDs by up to 50%.  In addition, the LED light wavelength can shift with increasing temperature, which is an important concern for spectrum sensitive products.

In most general lighting applications, the heat must be dissipated through natural convection heat sinks (where radiation may play a significant role) to meet acoustic noise restrictions.  However, the thermal management requirements of emerging high intensity LED lighting products often exceed the practical limits of these passive cooling strategies.  Integrating heat pipes, HiK™ plates, or vapor chambers with the heat sink can reduce the LED temperatures, and allow current heat sinks to handle higher heat fluxes.

Heat pipes, HiK™ plates, and vapor chambers can provide the following benefits for LED thermal management:

  1. Transfer heat to a remote heat sink with minimum temperature drop (Heat Pipes)
  2. Isothermalize a heat sink, reducing LED temperature and heat sink mass (Heat Pipes, HiK™ Plates)
  3. Transform the high heat flux directly under the LED to a lower heat flux, that can be removed more easily (Vapor Chambers, HiK™ Plates)

How to choose which one!

ACT has put together a series of case studies to demonstrate the benefits in using two-phase heat transfer devices to reduce LED temperatures:


The Remote Sink

In tightly compact luminaire designs, heat pipes can be used to transfer to away from the LED to a remote sink location. Read more…

Extrusion IsothermalizationLED thermal management with heat pipes

To improve reliability and efficiency from your LEDs, aluminum heat sinks can be optimized with embedded ACT heat pipes to reduce the max temperature at the LED source.  Read more…

HiK™ Plates to Improve Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP)

Heat Sink SWaP,  performance and thermal conductivity can be improved by the addition of High Conductivity (HiK™) heat sinks.  Read more…

LED Circuit board with advanced thermal management, embedded heat pipes for led cooling

PCB Level Spreading

Embedding  heat pipes into the structure of the Metal Core Printed Circuit boards helps dissipate heat at the LED source, providing a local and highly effective thermal management solution. Read more…

LED vapor chamber, Aluminum nitride vapor chamber, ceramic vapor chamber, direct solder with heat pipes

C.T.E. Matched Vapor Chambers

ACT’s unique CTE Matched Vapor Chambers allow direct bonding of the heat sink to the LED eliminating a thermal interface and delivering uniform high heat flux dissipation.  Read more…


To summarize, LED design engineers are facing more demanding thermal management requirements as power levels increase and package sizes decrease.  Solutions using conventional metal extrusion heat sinks are becoming thermally ineffective and too large and bulky for emerging products.  The case studies above show that passive two phase heat transfer and heat spreading technologies such as Heat Pipes, Hi-K plates and vapor chambers can provide excellent thermal management solutions for the higher power, more densely packed LED devices.  Please contact us to speak with an ACT representative about your specific LED thermal management application.

Have a Question?