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48 SMT Magazine • June 2014 All electronic devices generate heat, and this heat must be dissipated to guarantee reli- ability and prevent untimely failures. However, the various materials used in electronic devices, such as polymers, ceramics and metals, all have different thermal expansion coefficients, and these differences can cause thermal manage- ment problems. One of the biggest challenges facing the electronics industry is matching different ma- terial sets used to ensure the highest thermal conductivity, while keeping the thermal expan- sion of the various materials similar enough to prevent reliability issues. Keeping heat out of the electronic device, or removing the heat and cooling the device, is necessary for proper op- eration. Heat removal helps to eliminate mis- matched thermal performance which can cause operational failure. Thermal management is an important com- ponent of electronic circuitry for a myriad of products, from power electronics used in elec- tric and hybrid cars, to solar and wind energy equipment, to oil and gas downhole drilling ap- plications, and high-powered LED devices. As an example, renewable electrical energy from solar and wind sources must be converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). feaTure by Mark Challingsworth heraeuS preCiouS MeTalS Trends in Thermal Management Materials for Electronic Circuits figure 1: fine-line gold conductor on a ceramic substrate provides excellent thermal properties.

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