The Heat Is On


Playing golf has taught me a bit about work under pressure. I wouldn’t say that my golf game is bad, but if I grew tomatoes, they would probably come up sliced. Often in our industry I’m asked to give an awards presentation, or lead a panel or a keynote, and the easiest way to begin is to pretend that I’m teeing off at Pebble Beach. The pressure to hit the ball squarely with follow-through as the crowd judges every move is so intense that I can feel it. And the cost of the course alone demands a certain skill. Fear seems to heat up the surroundings. “Hey, this isn’t Pebble Beach,” I remind myself. This is just a meeting of friends in an industry I enjoy, waiting to be enlightened and entertained. In a moment, cool relief washes over me and my voice returns. Golf is self-inflicted pressure. The amazing thing is that it is so simple, the concentration required to do it well is like meditation. But teeing off the first hole creates heat.

Heat plays in important role in packaging as well. In the back-end, thermal design and analysis techniques are continuously adjusting to packaging’s changing structures. Incorporating additional functionality within each package, including combinations of lateral and stacked chips and other complex structures, creates interesting thermal engineering problems. Here “interesting” is the operative word, much like “unusual” - as it applies to my attempts at golf. To address thermal solutions for the back-end, MEPTEC will present their 3rd annual technical symposium February 15, 2007, in San Jose. Also, Georgia Tech Packaging Research Center and Binghamton University have partnered to form an industry-academia Thermal Interface Materials (TIM) Consortium. Fifty engineers worldwide have agreed to work on 12 TIM-related research projects. The TIM Consortium is expected to involve a total of 6 academic, 3 research faculty and 6 Ph.D. students to enable a 10× improvement in overall interface thermal resistance. Research efforts concentrate on novel thin film materials, TIM surfaces, interfaces and bonding, characterization, prototype testbed, and reliability. The TIM consortium launch date is set for June 1, 2007.

Everywhere in the news companies announce their latest products for heatsinks. For instance, Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc., announced thermal management mechanical packaging solutions, the ATS-486, ATS-503, and ATS-504, for cooling OSRAM’s dragonstick LEDs and other linear LED lighting products. Additionally, this issue of Advanced Packaging offers an article (“Particle Atomic Layer Deposition”) on the incorporation of metal- and ceramic-filler additives to polymeric materials to give greater thermal conductivity on a nano-scale level.

A multitude of thermal solutions abound. So take a deep breath and begin research on how to deal with them. It’s good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling, according to Mark Twain. But some of these balls have stopped and are there for the taking.

Click here to enlarge image

Gail Flower