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The Art of TIM Thermal Measurements
Keywords: TIM, Thermal Conductivity, Thermal Interface Material
As the importance of understanding of electronic system thermal characteristics has grown, the need for making proper thermal measurements following a reasonably standardized approach has become paramount. In the area of Thermal Interface Material (TIM), whether used inside the semiconductor package (TIM0) or external to the semiconductor package (TIM1 or TIM2), there are two approaches to thermal measurements –standards-oriented or applications-oriented. Both of these approaches make use of a temperature change in the measurement environment but differ primarily in which temperature changes and how the measurement environment is configured. Both approaches have there place as they provide two different types of results. The standards-oriented approach primarily focuses on measurement of a key TIM attribute - thermal conductivity (KΘ). This is an attribute of the bulk material, devoid of Bond Line Resistance (BLR), and is useful in comparison of materials and, through calculation, determining material specific heat. The key standard for the KΘ measurement currently appears to be ASME's ASTM-5470 test method. The applications-oriented approach concentrates on how the TIM is used and makes a thermal measurements that more closely reflects actual usage of the material. An example of this approach is making a thermal resistance measurement from the semiconductor junction to the heat sink, with TIM1 applied between the top of the semiconductor package and the bottom of the heat sink. This presentation will deal with both approaches – describing how the measurements are made, what data is important, and how to get the desired results.
Bernie Siegal, President
Thermal Engineering Assocites, Inc.
Santa Clara, CA

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