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Thermal Conditions in Electronics - Steady State Analysis


In the field of electronics, especially in the field of PCBA, thermal conditions are critical to the life cycle, performance and function of the device. Environmental conditions often affect how designers lay out their components on a PCB.


With such an emphasis on thermal conditions in the field of electronics, a specific type of thermal analysis must logically be warranted. One such form of analysis is called steady-state thermal analysis, and this is what we will focus on.


What is steady state?


In the field of physics, steady state is a stable state that does not change with time, or a stable state in which changes in one direction are continuously balanced by changes in the other direction. In chemistry, steady state is the situation in which all state variables are constant despite ongoing processes trying to change them.


Fields or areas in discussion may change, but the definition of steady state remains the same. What still remains constant is the detrimental effect of thermal conditions (ie high temperatures) on semiconductor devices.


These conditions are exacerbated by the need for miniaturization, as it involves mounting power semiconductors at smaller distances, utilizing the same heat sink.


Steady State Thermal Analysis


We define steady-state thermal analysis as the analysis of changes in material properties at a constant temperature. Analysis of this nature is essential to access the correct operating parameters of power semiconductor devices.


In electronics, semiconductor devices are adversely affected when junction temperatures reach high enough values, which can lead to melting and thermal runaway.


A steady-state thermal analysis is the final step in a transient thermal analysis. In addition, steady-state thermal analysis is critical to determine heat flow, temperature, heat flux, and thermal gradients in a device under constant heat supply. Steady-state thermal analysis utilizes heat sources such as radiation, convection, and continuous temperature boundaries.


Negative effects of heat on semiconductor devices


Advances in semiconductor technology are synonymous with the constant miniaturization of nearly all electronic devices. However, mitigating overheating remains a top priority regardless of the size parameters of the device. This is especially true for semiconductors, which are evident at the maximum junction temperature specified by their manufacturer. These parameters provide temperature thresholds that control acceptable operating conditions.


This demonstrates the importance of measuring the operating temperature of power semiconductor devices including applications such as thyristors, power MOSFETs, IGBTs and power diodes.


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