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Innovative and reliable power modules: A future trend and evolution of technologies

: Neeb, C.; Boettcher, L.; Conrad, M.; Doncker, R.W. de


IEEE Industrial Electronics Magazine 8 (2014), No.3, pp.6-16
ISSN: 1932-4529
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IZM ()

Since the introduction of the first power module by Semikron in 1975, many innovations have been made to improve the thermal, electrical, and mechanical performance of power modules. These innovations in packaging technology focus on the enhancement of the heat dissipation and thermal cycling capability of the modules. Thermal cycles, caused by varying load and environmental operating conditions, induce high mechanical stress in the interconnection layers of the power module due to the different coefficients of thermal expansion (CTE), leading to fatigue and growth of microcracks in the bonding materials. As a result, the lifetime of power modules can be severely limited in practical applications. Furthermore, to reduce the size and weight of converters, the semiconductors are being operated at higher junction temperatures. Higher temperatures are especially of great interest for use of wide-?bandgap materials, such as SiC and GaN, because these materials leverage their material characteristics, particularly at higher temperatures. To satisfy these tightened requirements, on the one hand, conventional power modules, i.e., direct bonded Cu (DBC)-based systems with bond wire contacts, have been further improved. On the other hand, alternative packaging techniques, e.g., chip embedding into printed circuit boards (PCBs) and power module packaging based on the selective laser melting (SLM) technique, have been developed, which might constitute an alternative to conventional power modules in certain applications.