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Unexpected conduction paths and transient analysis in FloTHERM

This week I was in our Nottingham office to help deliver some internal training. One of the subjects of the training course was setting up transient analysis in FloTHERM. The example model we used was a detailed model of a TO220 on a PCB in free air. We set the heat source in the die to pulse on for 50ms, off for 50ms and repeat for 1s total. The idea was to show how a transient model can be set up, things to look out for, solver settings pertinent to transient analysis in free convection and how to post process those results afterward. With a mini competition for the best looking animation that the trainees could come up with. Note: Simple often works better, trying to be too clever and do too much normally means that your processor and/or graphics card just can’t keep up!

Anyway whilst showing the post processing we noticed a cool bit of physics going on. Now the TO220 model we had has 7 leads, but only 1 was directly connected to the die, the other 6 were connected to the encapsulant.

Our TO220 FloTHERM model

Our TO220 FloTHERM model

When the die first powered on, the heat traveled through the die to the die flag and out to the top signal layer of the board, it also traveled from the die to the centre lead.

Heat flux through centre lead at 10ms

Heat flux through centre lead at 10ms

Heat was able to pass along the signal layer and back up into the base of the lead for a short time

Heat flux through centre lead at 20ms

Heat flux through centre lead at 20ms

until the heat traveling down the lead finally caught up and overrode it.

Heat flux through centre lead at 70ms

Heat flux through centre lead at 70ms

Now in the centre lead this took a very short time, however in the outer leads, heat was still traveling in the opposite direction up the leads at the end of 1s.

Heat flux through outer lead at 1s

Heat flux through outer lead at 1s

So what does this teach us – mainly that conduction paths may not be as simple as they first appear. But also that FloTHERM is a great tool for finding out what exactly is going on with your thermal design – sweet!

Just to finish off, here’s an animation of the whole analysis. See how the die cools down in the “off” cycle while the heat still spreads throughout the rest of the model.

TO220, Electronics Cooling, Transient

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About Kelly Cordell-Morris

Kelly Cordell-MorrisI have been working in/with CFD in one way or another since graduating university with an aeronautics degree in 2000. I have worked for Mentor Graphics for over 3 years initially as a Senior Engineer and now as Application Engineering Manager. Some of my prior work includes research into containing and filtering air from smoking areas and research and development on gas turbine filtration equipment. In my spare time I am studying for a degree in Canine Training and Behaviour and I currently have 4 dogs that I train for various sports and competitions. Visit Kelly Cordell-Morris’ Blog

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