Thermal management challenges and solutions for avionics systems

The main source of heat in electronic equipment is their semiconductor chips, and the temperature sensitivities of these chips presents a challenge in designing cooling mechanisms. Overheating causes the chips to prematurely fail—and failure of only one chip can disable the entire equipment, the higher the chip temperature, the earlier and more certain the failure. As functionality has increased, the associated heat dissipation has escalated to the extent that it is recognized as a potential limitation on the pace of electronics development. Appropriate cooling strategies are needed to prevent overheating, and failure, of critical components.

In the past, avionics systems had extremely long development cycles but now demands for new and improved systems has shortened these cycles. The complete design cycle from concept to first customer ship is now much shorter and delays in product release can affect the delivery of a complex avionics system. One of the first delays in the delivery of the 787 was attributed to issues in the electronics. So we have a compounding challenge to deliver high reliability electronics.

This white paper addresses thermal design challenges for electronic products.