Field-Reversible Thermal Connector (RevCon) Challenges: A Review

Hsiu Hung Chen, Gary L. Solbrekken, Chung-Lung Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thermal connectors (card holder, retainer, thermal connector, etc.) have played a critical thermal management role for decades for electronic components. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research have long been aware of the importance of this thermal management technology, and as such hosted the first two Field-Reversible Thermal Connector (RevCon) challenges. Later, with DARPA's support, the University of Missouri hosted the RevCon III and RevCon IV competitions in 2014 and 2015. The number of competing teams has increased from four in RevCon I to nine in the first phase of RevCon III and 11 in RevCon IV. This event has expanded by creating: 1) crowdsourcing with more effective channels; 2) broader involvement from international teams; 3) an effective two-phase down-selecting procedure so that the uniqueness of their concept, concept feasibility, mass production cost analysis, complete project plan, and the delivery of a real prototype after the execution of the first phase can be well evaluated; and 4) better judgment on thermal performance with the combination of vibration and vacuum testing by experts from AFRL, Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, BAE Systems, HRL, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, and Advanced Cooling Technologies Corporation. Progressively challenging metrics were set for participating teams to achieve in subsequent challenges, leading to unique and novel prototype concepts from the teams. The thermal performance of the prototypes is generally outstanding: the majority outperforming advanced commercial-off-the shelf thermal connectors with thermal resistance values as low as 0.1 °C/W.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7508930
Pages (from-to)1181-1197
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Electronic packaging thermal management
  • product design
  • thermal resistance


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