Heat sinks are the dominant method of moving heat away from sensitive electronic modules. They are commonly used in television and stereo components as well as almost all computerized devices, including CD and DVD players. Without heat sinks, many common electronic devices would cook their own circuitry.
What Is a Heat Sink?
In order for heat sinks to be effective, they must move the heat being generated by a device away from it. They can do this by transferring the heat to another object, or by moving excess heat into the air. A radiator on a car is a type of heat sink that brings water into the sink by way of liquid circulating through the engine, and then dissipates that heat by allowing air to flow over many thin fins.
Heat Sinks and Thermal Equilibrium
Most heat sinks dissipate heat into air using some sort of fan or moving air system. Other heat sink transfer the heat to an object that heats slower and cools faster. To do this, the sink must be in direct contact with both objects, and the heat travels through the fins of the heat sink into the second object. This follows a scientific principle known as thermal equilibrium.