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Diamond-based heat spreaders for power electronic packaging applications

Thomas Guillemet, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


As any semiconductor-based devices, power electronic packages are driven by the constant increase of operating speed (higher frequency), integration level (higher power), and decrease in feature size (higher packing density). Although research and innovation efforts have kept these trends continuous for now more than fifty years, the electronic packaging technology is currently facing a challenge that must be addressed in order to move toward any further improvements in terms of performances or miniaturization: thermal management. Thermal issues in high-power packages strongly affect their reliability and lifetime and have now become one of the major limiting factors of power modules development. Thus, there is a strong need for materials that can sustain higher heat flux levels while safely integrating into the electronic package architecture. In such context, diamond is an attractive candidate because of its outstanding thermal conductivity, low thermal expansion, and high electrical resistivity. Its low heat capacity relative to metals such as aluminum or copper makes it however preferable for heat spreading applications (as a heat-spreader) rather than for dissipating the heat flux itself (as a heat sink). In this study, a dual diamond-based heat-spreading solution is proposed. Polycrystalline diamond films were grown through laser-assisted combustion synthesis on electronic substrates (in the U.S) while, in parallel, diamond-reinforced copper-matrix composite films were fabricated through tape casting and hot pressing (in France). These two types of diamond-based heat-spreading films were characterized and their microstructure and chemical composition were related to their thermal performances. Particular emphasize was put on the influence of interfaces on the thermal properties of the materials, either inside a single material (grain boundaries) or between dissimilar materials (film/substrate interface, matrix/reinforcement interface). Finally, the packaging potential of the two heat-spreading solutions invoked was evaluated. This study was carried out within the framework of a French-American collaboration between the Electrical Engineering department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (United States, U.S.) and the Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry of the University of Bordeaux (France). This study was financed by the Office of Naval Research in the U.S., and by the Région Aquitaine in France.

Subject Area

Inorganic chemistry|Condensed matter physics|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Guillemet, Thomas, "Diamond-based heat spreaders for power electronic packaging applications" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3591531.