Thermal interface materials (TIMs) serve a critical role in the thermal management of electronic systems by enhancing the flow of heat from source to sink. Nanostructured materials, such as arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been shown to outperform many commercially available TIMs due to their low intrinsic resistance and large compliance that enables them to conform to rough surfaces. These characteristics, combined with their low density and ability to withstand vacuum environments and extreme temperatures, make CNT-based TIMs very suitable for space applications. In space, materials are exposed to high doses of gamma radiation due to the lack of an atmosphere to serve as an absorbing medium. With typical design lifetimes of 5 to 10 years or even more, total radiation exposure can be significant and can affect the structure and performance of the TIM. In this work, the potentially adverse effects on the thermal performance of CNT TIMs of gamma-ray irradiation is reported. CNT TIMs were irradiated in a gamma cell at a rate of 250 rad/s to total doses of 50 and 100 Mrad. The thermal interface resistance was measured before and after gamma-ray irradiation using a transient photoacoustic (PA) method at room temperature and a contact pressure of 134 kPa and indicated no adverse effects of gamma-ray exposure on thermal performance.

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