Power electronics are used to minimize losses in converting the energy produced by the generator in a wind turbine, and to drive motors that control the pitch and yaw of the wind turbine to ensure maximum power extraction. The power electronic system is based on a series of three-phase pulse width modulated (PWM) power modules consisting of IGBT power switches and associated diodes that are soldered to a ceramic substrate and interconnected with wirebonds. The design of the packaging and cooling of the power electronics is crucial to enhancing the energy efficiency and the reliability of the electronics, which generate heat loads in the hundreds of watts/cm2, and are often placed in harsh and inaccessible offshore environments. Without adequate heat removal, the increase in device temperature will reduce the efficiency of power electronic devices leading to thermal runaway and eventual failure of the entire power electronic system. Furthermore, the increased temperatures can lead to failure of the packaging elements as well. This paper will provide an overview of the fundamental packaging level mechanisms that can cause failures in the power electronic system. These include wirebond and lead fatigue, die attach fatigue, substrate cracking, and lead bonding fatigue.

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