31 JAN

The Top 6 Thermal Management Issues and Why You Should Care

by Traci Schmidt

The term “thermal materials” represents a vastly broad category of electronic packaging constituents. They are the metals, ceramics, alloys, laminates, composites, organic and inorganic materials, as well as plastic compounds that are designed to play a crucial role in managing thermal energy and device level stress in today’s modern electronic packaging.

Now that we have defined what thermal management materials are, why should you care? Simply put, because they are the foundation of system reliability.

There’s a good reason for the development of every one of these materials, and at the crux of it all is the integrated circuit (IC) itself. Simply stated, all integrated circuits generate heat as a by-product of their operation. If not efficiently managed, the heat in the product or system that contains the IC can act to shorten the lifespan of that product or system.

Nearly every engineer or product designer responsible for building robust and reliable electronic products is compelled to pay close attention to managing the thermal by-product of device level temperature and the resultant stress that it places on the reliability of the IC. Building an electronic package improperly is like constructing a house with straw instead of blocks. If the foundation is weak and can’t effectively manage the environmental factors of wind, rain, summer heat, or winter cold, the house collapses. Similarly, if you build an IC on a poor foundation, it will not stand up to the stresses of operation. So it is for good reason that electronics design engineers are compelled to stack the right thermal management components to create a strong foundation for the integrated circuit.

Ready to start construction on your electronic package? Here are a few questions about issues related to thermal management technology to ask yourself first.

  1. Real Estate
    What is the space, or limit of space in which you have to work? Can you use a big heat spreader that distributes excess thermal energy across a large unoccupied area? Alternatively, are you limited to a confined space?
  2. Path
    What direction do you want this excess thermal energy to take? Do you want to spread it laterally away from the IC –in the X and Y direction? Or in the Z direction –to the top or bottom of the package?
  3. Power Level
    How much thermal energy do you need to dissipate? And how quickly do you need to get rid of it?
  4. Mounting
    Where are you dissipating this excess thermal energy? To a thermal case? To the environment? Do you need to force air, or in some cases water across the product? What’s available outside of the package to help dissipate the thermal energy?
  5. Form Factor
    What is the form factor of the IC itself? Is it square? Rectangular? Is it thick or thin? How well can the IC tolerate heat induced thermal stress?
  6. The “Cement”

How do you need or want to mount the IC to the package foundation? Can the “cement” take up some of the stresses? Can the cement help dissipate the heat?

We know that these are all tough questions for package engineers to take into account. Luckily the experienced team members at Hermetic Solutions Group are experts in designing the highest quality thermal management solutions to help customers succeed on the most complex projects. With state of the art materials and equipment, the staff at our ISO9001, ISO13485 and Nadcap certified facilities are standing by to work closely with package design engineers who are ready to start building the best house in the neighborhood.


Traci Schmidt

Leave a Comment

© 2017 Hermetic Solutions Group