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Study of dielectric liquids as alternative encapsulant for high temperature electronics power modules applications

Abstract : Todays, power electronics cover wide range of applications in our daily life, starting from household appliances, communications, transportation systems up to harsh and extreme environment as in oil and gas exploration and the deep space missions. The main deliveries of power electronics are energy efficiency, compact size, reliability, long durability. Improving power electronics will surely mean to deal with materials, the packaging system, switching technologies, heat dissipation, dielectric properties, thermal stability etc. It was since the first arc-mercury rectifying in traction system, and then reshaped by the discovery of classical semiconductor (Si based) and ultimately the wide bandgap semiconductor materials, such as SiC, GaN and carbon based (diamond). They have superior thermal and dielectric properties compared to previous classical semiconductor technologies (Ge, Si and GaAs), and allow devices to operate at higher voltage, temperature and switching frequency in power modules. Unfortunately, these developments are not equally followed by other parts within, such as encapsulant.Despite their key roles to provide mechanical and electrical protection inside a power module, silicone gel as major encapsulant is limited to 200°C, which is far below devices (e.g. SiC at 500°C). Encapsulant came from polymerization and curing process of silicone liquids mixture and transforms into gel. They worked very well when assembly with classical SC devices, but not with WBG SC. Thus, it is necessary to solve this thermal related issue by improving silicone gel or start looking for other type of encapsulant with better thermal performance such as dielectric liquid or gas.Dielectric liquids have been used as insulating medium for high voltage (HV) applications for decades. Their excellent self-healing and arc quenching properties were used in the HV circuit breaker applications even though nowadays replaced by gas. Their low viscosity allow the fluid flow to exchange heat from internal source yielding effective cooling system as in power transformers. Other industries use dielectric liquids as heat transfer liquid at much higher temperature range compare to those in HV applications. Of course as heat transfer liquids, their dielectric properties are out of considerations. Nevertheless, having this wide range of applications spectrum, dielectric liquids seem rather promising and potential as alternative encapsulant. Some questions then aroused such as how are their electrical properties at high temperature (HT) approx. 400°C, are their dielectric properties stable at HT and can they contribute to cooling of devices inside power module.This work presents the initial study of dielectric liquids for HT power electronics module applications. We demonstrated the electrical characterization of several dielectric liquids under influence of temperature such as dielectric spectroscopy and ion mobility measurement, partial discharge, streamers and breakdown. Interesting physical phenomena such as liquid motions due to EHD and natural thermal convection were observed during experiments. Comparison among liquids are showed to indicate the most convenient. In term of application, conditions were adapted and simplified to replicate as those in power module when we performed characterizations to actual ceramic substrates under quasi-uniform to highly divergent electric field with AC, DC and impulse voltage. Many fundamental behaviours of liquids have been confirmed and evidenced at HT range. Governing parameters for electrical properties such as breakdown, charge injection etc. were affirmed.While not all aspects of encapsulant requirement in term of HT are covered, this work has established essential basis for electrical properties of dielectric liquids. Further works are required to fully assess their compatibility as alternative encapsulant, such as thermal ageing process, cooling contribution, complete modelling, etc.
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Joko Muslim. Study of dielectric liquids as alternative encapsulant for high temperature electronics power modules applications. Electric power. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019GREAT109⟩. ⟨tel-02905480⟩

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