Review of Scientific Instruments

Steady-state low thermal resistance characterization apparatus: The bulk thermal tester

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The reliability of microelectronic devices is largely dependent on electronic packaging, which includes heat removal. The appropriate packaging design therefore necessitates precise knowledge of the relevant material properties, including thermal resistance and thermal conductivity. Thin materials and high conductivity layers make their thermal characterization challenging. A steady state measurement technique is presented and evaluated with the purpose to characterize samples with a thermal resistance below 100 mm2 K/W. It is based on the heat flow meter bar approach made up by two copper blocks and relies exclusively on temperature measurements from thermocouples. The importance of thermocouple calibration is emphasized in order to obtain accurate temperature readings. An in depth error analysis, based on Gaussian error propagation, is carried out. An error sensitivity analysis highlights the importance of the precise knowledge of the thermal interface materials required for the measurements. Reference measurements on Mo samples reveal a measurement uncertainty in the range of 5% and most accurate measurements are obtained at high heat fluxes. Measurement techniques for homogeneous bulk samples, layered materials, and protruding cavity samples are discussed. Ultimately, a comprehensive overview of a steady state thermal characterization technique is provided, evaluating the accuracy of sample measurements with thermal resistances well below state of the art setups. Accurate characterization of materials used in heat removal applications, such as electronic packaging, will enable more efficient designs and ultimately contribute to energy savings.