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Deposition of Fluid Contaminants in 2-Phase Immersion Cooling: Mechanism, Effects and Proposed Mitigation Strategies
Keywords: Immersion, Contamination, 2-phase
Fluid borne contaminants have been linked to failures in electronic systems cooled by 2-phase immersion in fluorochemical fluids. These contaminants are primarily hydrocarbons that are extracted by the warm refluxing fluid from electrical insulation, adhesives, potting compounds, etc. Often present at levels that would be harmless in single phase systems, in 2-phase systems these contaminants can concentrate by distillation at boiling sites and precipitate from solution. Devices capable of generating boiling and therefore capable of precipitating contaminants are the same devices that must be heat sinked in air and include voltage regulators, ball grid array (BGA) devices, power transistors, etc. Only the electronically active regions on these devices such as wire bonds, vias and solder bumps are potentially sensitive to the contaminants. The contaminants can solvate acidic impurities and have been implicated in metal migration and whiskering. Strategies to eliminate failures caused by contamination include: elimination or pre-cleaning of the contamination source, in situ scrubbing of the fluid, sealing sensitive sites on boiling devices and ushering heat away from sensitive sites. These phenomena are elucidated via field data gathered with conventional servers, supercomputers and Bitcoin mining hardware.
Phillip Tuma, Advanced Application Development Specialist
3M Company
St. Paul, MN

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