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Thermal Management for LED Lighting
Keywords: Thermal management, LED's, Lighting
LED lighting is undergoing explosive growth. Many countries have presented target dates for the elimination of incandescent light bulbs over the next 5-7 years. Consumers expect the same kind of performance from LED's that traditional lighting has afforded them. It is well understood that the reliability of LED's is a strong function of temperature, which if not controlled can cause premature failure. LED semiconductor manufacturers have characterized performance-temperature relationships quite well, and made valiant efforts to publish the information. Lighting designers have realized that thermal management can no longer be an afterthought to be addressed at the final stages of development. However with so many inexperienced lighting companies entering this arena, thermal management solutions are sometimes poorly designed, inefficiently implemented, or even ignored. The practical aspects of thermal management are reviewed in this paper. Low power LED lighting needs little special attention. However dense arrays of high power LED's require thermally designed solutions ranging from thermally enhanced FR4, to thermally conductive pcb's, or even heat pipes and vapor chambers to move heat away from the vicinity of LED semiconductors. Heat flux can easily exceed the typical situations experienced for many cpu or gpu packages. The wide ranges of thermal solution choices are reviewed, and some practical examples of the potential pitfalls that those new to thermal management should avoid are covered. New concepts to accommodate high heat flux and dissipate heat are suggested.
Richard Hill, Vice President Technology
Laird Technologies
Cleveland, OH

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