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MEMS-based ICs keep chips cool

Posted: 04 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS chip? MEMS cooler? microchip? thermoelectric coolers?

Micropelt GmbH helps to keep semiconductors, laser diodes and photonic sensors cool. The company offers thermoelectric coolers (TECs) on microchip basis, manufactured in MEMS technology. Micropelt, a spinoff of Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques and semiconductor vendor Infineon, has presented a TEC family offering an unusual high delta K (temperature difference) of over 60K. With this high delta K, the company claims, the device opens possibilities for laser and photonic sensor manufacturers whose applications require a large bandwidth of thermal control.

The company claims the new TECs best conventional Peltier elements by a factor of 10 with respect to its cooling power. At the same time, the device is extremely small; with a surface of less than 1cm? and a thickness of 1,100?m, it can be bonded on top of most merchantable semiconductor chips.

With respect to the temperature dynamics, the device beats conventional Peltier elements by a factor of 20 and more, Micropelt claims; the temperature can be changed by up to 180K per second.

TECs are based on the Peltier effect: By sending a current trough the element, it produces a temperature difference between its front- and backside. Thus, it can 'transport' heat away from a hot surface, for example, of a semiconductor or a laser diode. In laser diode applications, cooling is particularly important since the diode's radiation characteristics are controlled through its temperature, a company spokesperson explained.

Micropelt brings the Peltier effect to the microchip scale by manufacturing the TECs as a MEMS device and produce them in a wafer fab. The company runs production on its own MEMS fab, the spokesperson said.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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