How to use Simulation to Prevent Thermal Failure

Studies show that runaway heat causes more than 50% of all electronic system failures. To prevent this phenomenon, design can include aspects such as thermal vias and airflow. Before building these systems, it can prove useful to virtually prototype the thermal design by using detailed simulation.

Shown in this presentation are case studies, including:

  1. Thermal vias for a RF termination,
  2. A board housed in an ARINC 600 Enclosure, and
  3. A cell phone with multiple thermal contributions

The thermal vias results are compared theoretically, experimentally, and virtually with simulation. A thermal imaging system using an IR camera was used to measure the top surface temperatures over a range of input powers with samples of varying via sizes and densities. The set-up was also examined theoretically and simulated for comparison. The current density from the radiator element was modeled and used as a source in a steady-state Thermal simulation. An ARINC enclosure was simulated with an CHT solver with airflow and various vent sizes. Lastly, a cell phone design is simulated to capture its electrical loss which is then seamlessly simulated for detailed thermal loss with additional thermal sources.

CST Studio Suite Software for Electromagnetic Field Simulation

Used in leading technology and engineering organizations worldwide, CST Studio Suite delivers significant product-to-market advantages, contributing to reduced development cycles and lower costs through both simulation and the virtual prototyping that simulation enables. Together, the capabilities can result in optimized device performance, identification and early mitigation of potential compliance issues, fewer physical prototypes, and greatly reduced risk of test failures and product recalls.

Tracey is a CST Analyst at Adaptive – A TriMech Company and has worked as an application engineer for more than a decade, initially for CST and later with Dassault Systémes. Previous to this, she worked as an RF design engineer in the communications industry designing RF components and subsystems. She has a Master’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and a PhD in Material Science from WPI.