The advent of wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), has enabled power electronics with increasing current densities and switching frequencies. A byproduct of these improved electrical characteristics is an increase in thermal power density. Indeed, the full capability of WBG semiconductors may be underutilized if the thermal management solution cannot keep pace with the device heat generation density. Further, as many power electronics devices are integrated into a power module form factor containing a metal baseplate to allow heat spreading from high heat fluxes generated at semiconductor dies, system integrators are often sensitive to cost and weight considerations in building up systems with traditional power module designs.
In this paper, a polymer baseplate with integrated microconvective cooling (PBIMC) is designed and built as a low-weight, cost-effective alternative for metal baseplates on power module devices. Microconvective cooling, featuring optimized single-phase impingement cooling and effluent fluid flow control, provides high power density heat removal from localized heat flux areas in power module packages to obviate the need for a metal heat spreader. Thermal performance of the PBIMC is tested on a thermal test vehicle representative of an IGBT power module to power densities up to 200W/cm2 and compared to an off the shelf minichannel cold plate. The PBIMC achieved equivalent per IGBT case-to-fluid areal thermal resistances of 0.15 K-cm2/W, a 69% decrease compared to the baseline cold plate. Additionally, thermal crosstalk was shown to be reduced by up to 89% when moving from the cold plate to the PBIMC, demonstrating potential advantages in utilizing thermal management techniques that do not feature heat spreading. The prototype-level polymer baseplates showed a > 80% decrease in weight compared to a traditional power module metal baseplate. The study concludes that the PBIMC shows promise as a solution for high current density power electronics in weight sensitive applications, while providing opportunities for cost savings.