Assessing polymeric nanocomposites and advanced cooling techniques for thermal management of next-generation power electronics
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The field of power electronics devices has seen two significant trends in recent years: rapid miniaturization of devices and the replacement of silicon-based devices with wide bandgap semiconductor materials-based devices (Silicon Carbide (SiC), Gallium Nitride (GaN)). The end result of these advancements are devices that need advanced cooling technologies to dissipate ultrahigh high and concentrated heat loads. Multiple advanced thermal management solutions such as liquid cooling, jet, and spray impingement have been proposed as potential solutions. The present dissertation quantifies the benefits of key advanced cooling techniques for thermal management of power electronics packages. An analytical modeling framework based on a thermal resistance circuit has been utilized to estimate the maximum heat flux that can be dissipated from a power electronics package, and the junction temperatures at varying levels of power dissipation. Analysis was conducted for heat sinks made of copper (k=400 W/mK) and a polymer (k=20 W/mK). The developed modeling framework takes into account heat spreading in both lateral directions while capturing the influence of material properties on the spreading angle. The model can, therefore, be considered to capture 3D effects as well. Additionally, 3D Finite Element Analysis (FEA) simulations have been carried out to compare with the findings of the analytical model. This dissertation also studies the influence of polymeric encapsulants of varying thermal conductivities on the resulting temperature distributions in the package via steady 2D coupled electro-thermal simulations. Overall, the methodology and results presented in this dissertation provide insights for selecting optimal combinations of thermal management technologies and advanced polymeric materials, based on the heat dissipation requirements of power electronics packages.