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Thermal interface materials for power electronics applications

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4 Author(s)
Narumanchi, S. ; Nat. Renewable Energy Lab., Golden, CO ; Mihalic, M. ; Kelly, K. ; Eesley, G.

In a typical power electronics package, a grease layer forms the interface between the direct bond copper (DBC) layer or a baseplate and the heat sink. This grease layer has the highest thermal resistance of any layer in the package. Reducing the thermal resistance of this thermal interface material (TIM) can help achieve the FreedomCAR program goals of using a glycol water mixture at 105degC or even air cooling. It is desirable to keep the maximum temperature of the conventional silicon die below 125degC, trench insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) below 150degC, and silicon carbide-based devices below 200degC. Using improved thermal interface materials enables the realization of these goals and the dissipation of high heat fluxes. The ability to dissipate high heat fluxes in turn enables a reduction in die size, cost, weight, and volume. This paper describes our progress in characterizing the thermal performance of some conventional and novel thermal interface materials. We acquired, modified, and improved an apparatus based on the ASTM D5470 test method and measured the thermal resistance of various conventional greases. We also measured the performance of select phase-change materials and thermoplastics through the ASTM steady-state and the transient laser flash approaches, and compared the two methodologies. These experimental results for thermal resistance are cast in the context of automotive power electronics cooling. Results from numerical finite element modeling indicate that the thermal resistance of the TIM layer has a dramatic effect on the maximum temperature in the IGBT package.

Published in:

Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems, 2008. ITHERM 2008. 11th Intersociety Conference on

Date of Conference:

28-31 May 2008