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What is thermal management in electronics packaging?


Thermal management in electronics packaging addresses problems associated with degradation of a device or system at high temperatures. It is a critical part of packaging design. The continuing trends for compact, more highly integrated devices with smaller feature sizes and higher currents places greater emphasis on thermal management and control to ensure reliable operation.

Heat can be introduced into a device or system through active device operation or through transfer from the surrounding environment. To ensure proper package and device performance, this heat must be transferred out of the system. Performance issues may include a reduction of system speed, loss of noise margin, and catastrophic breakdown.

There are three basic methods of transferring heat from a package or device: convection, conduction, and radiation. Methods of convection whereby heat is transferred from the surface of a solid to a surrounding gas or fluid include the use of base plates and heat pipes. Conduction refers to the transfer of heat through a solid medium. The choice of materials used for device and substrate affect the ability of the system to conduct heat away. Heat-sinks such as copper, aluminium, or copper and aluminium alloys are used for rapid transfer of heat from high power devices. Thermal radiation is the electromagnetic radiation produced due to temperature. Although radiative heat transfer does occur, its impact is typically far less than convective or conductive means.

Modelling is often used to describe and predict the influence of heat and heat transfer in an electronics package. The environmental conditions, system design, and materials properties such as thermal conductivity, emissivity, absorbitivity, and thermal expansion are accumulated to develop a model for assessing and controlling thermal performance.

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