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Discover how to perform a parametric analysis in Ansys Icepak to find the best conditions for heat dissipation.

Understanding Heat Dissipation in Electronics

Electronics generate heat during operation due to the flow of electric current through various components. If this heat is not effectively dissipated, it can lead to performance degradation, reduced lifespan, and even failure of the electronic devices. 

To understand heat dissipation in electronics, it is important to consider factors such as:

  • Reliability and Longevity
    Electronic components and integrated circuits (ICs) generate heat during operation due to the flow of current and switching of transistors. Excessive heat build-up can accelerate electromigration, cause expansion/contraction effects, and degrade insulating materials over time. This leads to premature failure of the components. Proper heat dissipation extends the lifespan and improves reliability.

  • Performance and Speed
    The operating speed and performance of electronic devices, especially high-frequency processors and power electronics, degrade significantly at higher temperatures due to increased resistance and electron mobility effects. Removing waste heat allows the components to operate at peak performance levels.

  • Parameter Stability
    Many electrical parameters like resistance, capacitance, and semiconductor properties are temperature-dependent. Uncontrolled heat can cause parametric shifts and instability, affecting circuit functionality and accuracy.

  • Safety Considerations
    Excessive heat build-up in electronic enclosures or systems poses fire hazards and increases risk of burns if accessible to users. Thermal management ensures safe operating temperatures.

  • Energy Efficiency
    In addition to performance impacts, high temperatures in electronics lead to increased leakage currents and power dissipation, reducing overall energy efficiency of the device or system.

Effective heat dissipation techniques used in electronics include heat sinks, fans, heat pipes, liquid cooling, thermal interface materials, and adequate spacing/airflow in layouts. Dissipating waste heat protects components, ensures designed operation, improves reliability/safety, and optimizes energy usage - all crucial aspects for high-performance, long-lasting electronic products.


Simulation approach

We can simulate a system and obtain results, but the assessment is made only for one combination of geometric features and operating conditions. What if some of those parameters change? Would the results be better or worse? The answer to those questions lies on the parametric and optimization analyses. They are related but distinct concepts in engineering and scientific computing. 

  • Parametrization refers to the process of representing a system or model using parameters or variables that can be adjusted within defined bounds or constraints. It involves identifying the key parameters that influence the behavior of the system and expressing the system's characteristics or output as functions of these parameters.
  • Optimization is the process of finding the set of parameter values that produce the best or most desirable outcome according to predefined objective functions and constraints.

In this Demo we applied an easy parametric study to find out the position of the fan that minimizes the temperature on a PCB as shown in the picture below. The Software is Ansys Icepak, which provides a workflow to run several simulations in sequence based on parametrization. For this case, the parameter is the position (Z-axis) of the fan. This means there is a set of results for each position and the user can load a set individually to check the temperature values.


To learn how to create geometries, set up their properties, and perform the simulation (or similar ones), we invite you to watch the following video. 


Post by German Ibarra
May 30, 2024