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Selecting the Ideal Thermal Material For Your Application
Keywords: Materials, Thermal, Design
As devices get smaller and demand more power, heat dissipation increasingly becomes an issue. Ion Beam Milling has been working with companies to solve their heat dissipation problems for over 33 years. We offer several different options to enhance thermal conductivity. At the bottom is AlN, a long time player in thermal applications with a heat dissipation value of 170 W/mK in its standard form and specialty versions offering values as high as high as 230 W/mK. It affords an excellent CTE match to silicon based devices. Next up is BeO. While it is shunned in some circles for its reputed toxicity, the fact is that in solid substrate form, BeO presents limited to no hazards. It has a thermal conductivity of 285 W/mK and provides an excellent CTE match for Gallium Arsenide based devices. Additionally, when an application needs a higher heat dissipation value than the standard AlN formulation offers, BeO is both less expensive and easier to procure than the specialty AlN offerings. Ion Beam Milling has experience working with customers to design sub mounts and heat spreaders using these more common products, however sometimes the requirements of a specific application exceed the capabilities of BeO or specialty AlN. In these cases, CVD is the only option. CVD is available in different grades with heat dissipation values between 700 W/mK and 1,800 W/mK. While these values are impressive, there are challenges. First of all, CVD is significantly more expensive that other options (more than 100x the cost of BeO) and customers are often shocked at the substantial price difference. Secondly, the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (TCE) is much lower for CVD than it is for AlN or BeO, so this must be considered when matching CVD sub mounts to customer circuits. The bottom line is that material selection is something that must be considered carefully as there is no simple formula for determining the ideal substrate. It is essential for device manufacturers to partner with companies that understand the intricacies of the substrate options in order to choose the best option for a given application.
Jim Barrett, President
Ion Beam Milling, Inc.
Manchester, NH

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