Optimized Thermoelectric Cooling Strategies for High Performance Electronics
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Thermoelectric components (TECs) and other electronic cooling components such as micro-heat sinks have been shown to provide effective cooling for integrated circuits (ICs). A review of available literature has shown effective temperature control using these components separately, and to a lesser extent, using configurations containing multiple approaches for cooling to sub-ambient levels. However, little data are available for sizing thermal management packages focusing on shrinking the device footprint. This suggests that more experimental data of multi-component cooling strategies are needed to leverage the advantages and demonstrate superior cooling performance on a smaller scale. In some electronics devices, such as spectrometers or photodetectors, the quality of spectral data obtained is adversely affected by increases in device temperature. Physically speaking, this is due to the fact that, at higher temperatures, the charged particles are stimulated and released from the boundary region, a process known as thermionic emission. Reducing the local temperature will help minimize the effects of heat generation and the overall noise associated with this heat buildup. The thesis sets out to assess the feasibility and practicality of implementing a TEC-based thermal management system for use in electronic packaging and in particular, for spectrometers in the nanophotonics industry. A heat sink and fan were used as auxiliary components to aid the heat dissipation process. The key areas that needed to be addressed include surface temperature stability, sub-ambient cooling capability, and scale down potential of the overall device. Cooling of surfaces down to at least -10°C (from ambient) was conducted using several heat sink and thermoelectric device configurations. Temperature stability was demonstrated through low temperature fluctuations (0.2°C/h surface warm up rate) for a 5 hour timeframe. Preliminary results demonstrate a 78% reduction of heat sink size down to 57 cm3 (surface area 172 cm2) while maintaining a -10°C surface temperature. Maximum surface cooling down to -22.4°C was achieved using 254 cm3 heat sink volume (surface area 1443 cm2). The results also show a strong correlation between available heat sink surface area and cooling performance. Continuing improvements such as introducing a phase change liquid and further size reductions to key components (fans, TEC, heat sinks, etc.) can potentially help scale down the thermal management system even more.