Years prior, vapor chambers were considered an expensive and premium cooling option compared to regular heat pipes. However, with the rapid advancement in technology, vapor chambers have become far cheaper to manufacture and are now commonly used in a large variety of applications.
So what is a vapor chamber?
To put it simply, vapor chambers are planar or flat versions of heat pipes. Vapor chambers work in the same manner as heat pipes as they are vacuumed sealed containing a working fluid within for heat transfer.
How does it work?
When heat is applied, the working fluid travels to the other end of the vapor chamber where it converts into gas. During the conversion, the heat gets released often to an attached heatsink. After the heat is released, the gas reconverts back into a liquid and gets channeled back to the heat source via the wick structure in the vapor chamber. The working fluid can freely move within the vapor chamber via capillary action. This is due to its internal structure and grooves.
Why should we use vapor chambers?
There are three major reasons why we would want to use a vapor chamber.
Allow more uniform and direct contact with the heat source due to its flat surface area.
"The direct contact allows better thermal conductivity, enabling a faster and much efficient rate of heat transfer."
2. Ability to be molded into any kind of shape and size depending on the application.
"Due to the internal structure and its source material, vapor chambers can be made from as small as 0.5mm up to the 1-meter length."
3. Heat can be transferred in any direction except if the heat source is on the top
"The internal structure of the vapor chamber, allows the working fluid to freely condense and move within the wick structure. Heat can then be transferred from hotter to cooler areas within the entire device. However, due to the low density of gas, heat cannot be transferred to the bottom of the vapor chamber from the topside"
How are aluminum vapor chambers better than regular copper heat pipes?
The vapor chamber is a better option compared to regular heat pipes because it has direct contact with the heat source and a large surface area to spread the heat. Vapor chambers can also be charged with refrigerant fluid. Although aluminum vapor chambers have lesser thermal conductivity compared to copper heat pipes, the refrigerant fluid does make up for the losses to a certain extent.
Compared to vapor chambers, heat pipes often have strict structures whereby a thin and lengthy shape has to be followed. Vapor chambers, on the other hand, can be constructed in virtually also any shape or size to fit into complicated environments and locations.
Where can the vapor chamber be applied?
Basically, in almost any kind of application.
Just to name a few.