Stacked power modules with integrated cooling

Multi-functional components act as electrical, thermal, and mechanical attachments which significantly reduce the size, weight, and cost for power electronics while improving reliability and performance


As shown in the above patent drawing, the pillars 37 serve two purposes: (a) thermal connections to remove the heat from the devices 31-34 and (b) low stress interconnects to the devices 31-34. See patent for more details.

Thermal management is crucial in high-power electronics due to the enormous amount of heat coming off the devices. The amount of power that a module can achieve is most often temperature limited; therefore, if the heat can more effectively be removed, the module can operate at a higher power density. Also, most reliability concerns are strongly temperature dependent; as such, reducing device temperature will improve reliability.

Addressing thermal management in high-power devices, Army scientists have developed an approach for power electronics packaging which takes advantage of multi-functional components in a stacked architecture with integrated cooling. The structure comprises a +/-five-layer stack (metal, power die, metal, power die, metal) with the metallic layers acting as thermal, mechanical, and electrical contacts between the power die. The configuration significantly reduces power module packaging size, weight, and cost while improving reliability and performance.

The stack includes an integrated heat sink and active cooling. Heat mitigation can be from air cooling, forced air convection, active liquid, and solid to liquid phase change materials, depending on the application requirements. A dielectric coating protects components in contact with fluid if a liquid coolant is used. As an added benefit, this approach eliminates the solid dielectric substrate (direct bond copper) used in most power packaging modules.

Power modules are numerous and are used in any type of power conversion. Thus, this technology could be deployed in diverse applications including hybrid and electric vehicles, UAVs, renewable energy systems, generators, aerospace, and oil drilling. It could also be used in lower powered systems including mobile phones, electronics chargers, and computers, where the cooling requirements would be much less but the packaging approach highly beneficial.

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