Heat Sink Materials: Aluminum vs. Copper
Heat sinks are a type of heat exchanger that transfers heat generated by an electronic device into a moving coolant fluid. They cool central processing units, high power devices like power transistors, lasers, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Heat sinks require metals with high thermal conductivity.
You may know that aluminum is the most popular metal for heat sink, but copper is sometimes used as well. You may also realize that copper has better heat conductivity than aluminum.
So it's natural for people to wonder, “If copper has better heat conductivity than aluminum, but why is aluminum so much more common?”
Let us compare copper heat sink and aluminum heat sink from three factors.
Aluminum vs Copper: Heat Conductivity
Copper has even better thermal conductivity than aluminum.
In fact, aluminum only has 60% of the thermal conductivity that copper has. That's one point for copper.
Aluminum vs Copper: Weight
when you look at the density of the two metals, you will know that aluminum has only about 30% of the density of copper. That means aluminum significant weight savings. That's one point for for aluminum.
Aluminum vs Copper: Cost
The aluminum is much cheaper than copper. In fact, aluminum comes in at about one-third the cost. That is a significant cost savings for aluminum. So one more point for aluminum.
Aluminum alloys are common heat sink material because they are cheaper than copper.
However, if you need higher levels of thermal conductivity, copper is the best option.
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