A transient thermal analysis is performed to investigate thermal control of power semiconductors using phase change materials, and to compare the performance of this approach to that of copper heat sinks. Both the melting of the phase change material under a transient power spike input, as well as the resolidification process, are considered. Phase change materials of different kinds (paraffin waxes and metallic alloys) are considered, with and without the use of thermal conductivity enhancers. Simple expressions for the melt depth, melting time and temperature distribution are presented in terms of the dimensions of the heat sink and the thermophysical properties of the phase change material, to aid in the design of passive thermal control systems. The simplified analytical expressions are verified against numerical simulations, and are shown to be excellent tools for design calculations. The suppression of junction temperatures achieved by the use of phase change materials when compared to the performance with copper heat sinks is illustrated. Merits of employing phase change materials for pulsed power electronics cooling applications are discussed.

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S. Krishnan and S. V. Garimella, “Thermal Management of Transient Power Spikes in Electronics - Phase Change Energy Storage or Copper Heat Sinks?” ASME Journal of Electronic Packaging, Vol. 126, pp. 308-316, 2004.