In automotive power electronics packages (e.g., insulated gate bipolar transistor [IGBT] packages), conventional polymeric thermal interface materials (TIMs) such as greases, gels, and phase-change materials pose a bottleneck to heat removal and are also associated with reliability concerns. High thermal performance bonded interfaces have become an industry trend. However, due to mismatches in the coefficient of thermal expansion between materials/layers and the resultant thermomechanical stresses, there could be voids and crack formations in these bonded interfaces as well as delaminations, which pose a problem from a reliability standpoint. These defects manifest themselves in increased thermal resistance in the package, which acts as a bottleneck to heat removal from the package. Hence, the objective of this research is to investigate and improve the thermal performance and reliability of novel bonded interface materials for power electronics packaging applications. Thermal performance and reliability of bonds/joints is presented for bonds based on a thermoplastic (polyamide) adhesive with embedded micron-sized carbon fibers, sintered silver (Ag), and conventional lead (Pb)-based solder materials. These materials form a bond between 50.8 mm × 50.8 mm footprint direct-bond-copper (DBC) substrate and copper (Cu) base plate samples. Samples undergo thermal cycling (−40°C to 150°C) for up to 2,000 cycles as an upper limit. Damage occurrence is monitored every 100 temperature cycles by several non-destructive techniques, including steady-state thermal resistance measurement, acoustic microscopy, and high-voltage potential testing. This yields a consistent story on the thermal performance and reliability of large-area joints under accelerated stress conditions.

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