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The difference between thermal grease and thermally conductive gel


First, thermal gel and thermal grease are both thermal interface materials. The thermal gel is a new type of thermal interface material emerging in recent years. However, thermal grease is a veteran of the thermal interface material family. Both thermal interface materials are paste-like, and many customers have been unclear about the difference between thermal gel and thermal grease. Some people even default thermally conductive silicone to thermally conductive silicone grease, but the name is different.


What is thermally conductive gel?

Thermally conductive gel is a high-viscosity thermally conductive material, which is mixed with a variety of thermally conductive powders and thermally conductive silicone after being fully cured. The entire production process is done under a vacuum, so there is no air in the thermally conductive gel material. Most thermal gels are packaged in syringes. It not only has excellent electrical insulation, but also has excellent thermal conductivity, and has low oil separation, high and low-temperature resistance, water resistance, ozone resistance, and weather resistance.

The thermally conductive gel will not cause the precipitation of silicone oil, and the gel can be peeled off and reused. When the thermal conductive gel is connected to the heat sink and the chip, it only needs a small working pressure, generally less than 10psi, with low hardness, easy bending, and a wide working temperature range.


What is thermal grease?

Thermal grease is a material used to fill the gap between the CPU and the heat sink. Its function is to transfer heat from the CPU to the radiator, keep the CPU temperature at a stable working level, prevent the CPU from being damaged due to poor heat dissipation, and prolong its service life.

In heat dissipation and thermal conduction applications, even two flat surfaces with very smooth surfaces can create a gap when they encounter each other. The air in these gaps is a poor conductor of heat and hinders the conduction of heat to the heat sink. Thermal grease is a material that can fill these voids for smoother and faster heat transfer. There are many kinds of silicone grease on the market, and different parameters and physical properties determine different uses.


1. Different materials

Thermal grease is a thermal grease compound made of silicone as the main raw material, adding materials with excellent heat resistance and thermal conductivity

Thermally conductive gel is a high-end thermally conductive compound


2. Different characteristics

Thermal grease has high thermal conductivity, excellent thermal conductivity, good electrical insulation, a wide temperature range, good stability, low consistency, and good construction performance.

The thermally conductive gel releases low molecules through the condensation reaction of moisture in the air to cause cross-linking and curing and then vulcanizes into a high-performance elastomer. It has excellent heat and cold resistance, aging resistance, and electrical insulation properties. And has excellent moisture resistance, shock resistance, corona resistance, leakage resistance and chemical resistance.


3. Different uses

Thermal paste is used for gap filling and heat transfer between high-power transistors such as power amplifiers, transistors, electronic tubes, CPUs, switching tubes, integrated circuits and other chips and heat sinks.


Thermally conductive gel is widely used in LED chips, communication equipment, mobile phone CPU, memory module, IGBT and other power modules, power semiconductors, etc.


4. Different construction methods

The construction method of thermally conductive gel is better than that of thermally conductive silicone grease.

The conventional construction method of thermal grease is screen printing, and some customers just apply and scrape it evenly. But such a simple construction method must also be manually operated.

Thermally conductive gel construction can be done directly from an automatic dispenser, ending the history of thermal interface materials that could not be automated. In this way, the thermally conductive gel has good contact with the electronic product during the assembly process, has low contact thermal resistance, and has good electrical insulation properties.

In short, thermal gel can be built using a fully automated dispensing process, while thermal grease can only be built manually.


5. Different service life

Thermal gel has a longer lifespan than thermal grease.

Thermal gel does not dry for a long time and can be compressed infinitely. Can guarantee the service life of more than 10 years. Some manufacturers refer to thermally conductive gels as liquid thermally conductive silicone sheets.

But thermal grease has a shorter lifespan than all thermally conductive interface materials. After half a year of use, the thermal grease begins to dry slowly, and can be completely turned into powder within 2 years. A pinch will turn into dust, and thermal grease will also lose thermal conductivity. This is the end of the life of thermal grease. This is also the situation that thermal grease is often complained about, and it is also the fatal bottleneck for the development of thermal grease.

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