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What types of heat sinking materials are used in LED lighting systems?

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Any material that can conduct heat away from the LED can serve as a heat sink. Most metals are excellent conductors of heat and therefore many LED manufacturers suggest that mounting materials containing metal frames, fasteners and connectors be used, and that the contact area between the LED and its mounting surface be maximized. It is also important to make a good thermal contact between the LED and its mounting surface.

Recent illumination-grade LEDs contain metal fins and wings to assist in heat sinking as well as large, flat areas suitable for attachment to heat sinks. Even larger heat sinking devices, such as those used in some computer systems, consisting of metal slugs shaped to maximize their surface area, can be incorporated into LED systems containing arrays of LEDs. These could even be integrated into the design of the system to increase attractiveness (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Example of an attractive heat sink for LED lighting systems.