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John O | September 2018

Liquid crystal surface thermography provides precision temperature mapping

By Josh Perry, Editor


A new article from Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS), a leading-edge thermal engineering company based in Norwood, Mass., explains how liquid crystal surface thermography systems can be used by engineers to produce precise temperature mapping studies of circuits, components, and boards.


Liquid crystal thermography systems provide precision temperature maps on components and boards. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)


“To optimize thermal management, it is also critical to get an accurate picture of the heat distribution across a device or a board,” the article explained. “One of the most precise methods for mapping temperature is liquid crystal thermography (LCT). LCT uses thermochromic liquid crystals (TLC) to give engineers a visual representation of the heat distribution based on the changing colors of the TLC when heated.”


Thermochromic liquid crystals do not change directly from solid to liquid when heated but have an intermediate liquid-crystal phase at a precisely defined temperature. The phase-change causes TLC to change color from transparent to different colors, each color representing a precise temperature value.


A bright, white light is needed to visualize the TLC phase-change. The article added, “Temperature ranges for the TLC material are established by the manufacturers. Narrow-band TLC have bandwidths below 1-2°C, while wide-band TLC range between 5-20°C. TLC are typically designated by a two-color/temperature system.”


High-resolution liquid crystal thermography systems are used to measure those color changes and utilize calibration software that turns the color response into temperature values. “While TLC response is visible to the naked eye, the LTC system uses a high-resolution, solid-state color camera and calibrated software to more precisely determine the temperature,” the article continued.


Precision is the key for LCT systems. While there are a number of popular, and useful, thermal imaging tools on the market, LCT systems provide a level of detailed accuracy that is critical in thermal management of electronics. Finding hot spots and better understanding temperature distribution can be the difference between a system’s success or failure.


Read more about liquid crystal surface thermography at https://www.qats.com/cms/2018/08/30/liquid-crystal-thermography-provides-precise-heat-maps and learn more about ATS surface thermography systems in the video below:

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