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12 The PCB Magazine • December 2017 by Mark Goodwin VENTEC INTERNATIONAL GROUP Introduction Understanding how to use advanced ther- mal materials can help the automotive indus- try and other sectors, such as LED lighting and renewable energy, deliver greener products that meet consumers' demands for high perfor- mance and reliability. Power Electronics in Reliability- Conscious Industries Increasing electrification of high-power sys- tems in modern vehicles means additional pow- er electronic subsystems are coming on board to handle functions such as battery manage- ment, kinetic-energy recovery, and high-pow- er traction motor control. Peak demands can drive heavy currents through devices and cir- cuits, amounting to hundreds of kilowatts in the highest-power motor drives. As a result, thermal management is vital to keep operating temperatures within acceptable limits. The lifetime of semiconductor components like power transistors or diodes is known to re- duce by about 50% for every 10°C rise in operat- ing temperature. Hence effective thermal man- agement, which helps internally generated heat leave the component efficiently, can extend the lifetime by limiting the rise in die temperature caused by passing current. If the predicted life- time of the component can be extended be- yond the intended lifetime of the vehicle, reli- ability can be assured. Reliability, of course, is extremely important in automotive markets, and today's car mak- ers have earned their high reputations through painstaking attention to detail through many generations of conventional vehicles. Those rep- utations are on the line as the industry moves into unfamiliar territory and seeks to master the issues surrounding the reliability of power elec- tronic systems. FEATURE

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