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Thermal Characterization of a Thermally Enhanced QFN Package

Krishnamo0rthi.S *, K.Y Goh, Desmond Y.R.Chong **, R. Kapoor, Anthony Y.S. Sun
United Test & Assembly Center Ltd.
5 , Serangoon North Ave. 5,Singapore, 554916
Tel: 65-65511386 Fax: 65-65511366
Email: *krishnamoorthi , **desmond chone&
This paper addresses the development of thermally
enhanced (advanced) Quad Flat No lead or QFN package.
The QFN package is a promising choice for portable
wireless applications such as Bluetootb and Home RF. This
package offers attractive attributes in terms of a near CSP
footprint, good electrical and thermal characteristics.
Thermal characterization of a new thermally enhanced QFN
type of package named as HQFN. The HQFN package
structure is similar to a normal QFN package except that it
has an exposed heat spreader attached to the active die using
a die-attach film (DA film) material. The study is done in
comparison with a normal QFN type of package using
commercial CFD simulation software and validated with
experiments. Sensitivity analysis is made for the effect of
DA film material thermal conductivity and effect of heat
spreader size.
The new HQFN package is able to achieve a better
thermal performance than normal QFN without thermally
saturating the PCB. Simulation results show that with a
metal housing attached to the top of the package, it is
possible to achieve thermal improvement of more than 20%
under airflow conditions, and around 10% improvement
under still-air conditions, when compared to a normal QFN
package under the same test conditions.
Keywords: HQFN, thermal resistance, CFD modelling and
simulation, Experimental program, thermal measurement
and thermal performance.
Q = Die power,W
Oja=Junction to ambient thermal resistance, deg.C/W
Ojh=Junction to board thermal resistance, deg.C/W
%ja=Junctionto case thermal resistance, deg.C/W
Ojth=Thermal resistance, deg.C/W
Tj =Junction temperature, deg.C/W
Ta =Ambient temperature, deg.C/W
Tc =Package case temperature, deg.C/W
Q = Heat flow rate, W
K = Thermmal conductivity, W/mK
R = Thermal resistance, deg.C/W
A =Area of cross section, m**2

Mold compound
Heat spreader adhesive
(HSA) material
- Lead frame
Heat spreader (Cu &Si)
PCB Dielectric
PCB Trace

1. Introduction
The role of semiconductor industries is targeting
towards to reach compactness in package size with high
thermal performance i.e. reducing physical miniaturization
in both in-plane dimension and out-of-plane dimension
without sacrificing the thermal performance. As in the

0-7803-8205-6/03/$17.00 02003 IEEE

Thermal conductivity(W/m K)

262,117.5(temp. dependant*)
5n 4

* I17.5-0.42x(T-IOO),where T is the temperature in deg. C.


2003 Electronics Packaging Technology Conference

Thermally enhanced package configurations are shown

in folowing Fig 1 and Fig 3.

Fig 1. HQFN (Patent

without metal housing

Fig 3. HQF with

metal housine

Fig 2. QFN without

metal housing

Fig 4. QFN with

metal housine

heat to flow through heat spreader, mould compond, metal

housing attach material and metal housing where the heat
would he convectively removed by natural ox forced
convection. Forced air convection would provide a much
improved thermal performance. As far as convection heat
transfer is concerned, convective heat transfer co-effiecent
acts as a vital role and can be improved by increasing the air
velocity. Mostly, for air cooled devices, radiation effects are
minimal and can be ignored. In general, conduction and
convection equation can be written as follows
In this equation R is combination of all parts oftheraml
resistnce in the package.
R =L/KA or lihA
An attempt was made to explore the posibilities to
reduce the thermal resistance to heat transfer hy detaild
modelling, simulation and experiments. In general,
packages are characterized in terms of thermal resistance
4. Thermal Charaterization(Resistance)

A-Metal housing
B-Heat spreader adhesive
C-Heat spreader

The packages can normally he ranked by it:; thermal

characterization parameter i.e., eja, Ojc& ejb and can
generally he defined as
8jth= A T/Q
3. Thermal Enhancement Mechanisnm
ejth=themal resistance(eja, ejb and 8Jc)
A T=Tj-Tr, Tr is the reference temperature,can be
of package case temperature(Tc) or hoard
temperature(Tb) or ambient temperature(Ta) and Q
is the steady state heat dissipation of the package
5. Experimental Program



Fig 5 . Heat transfer mechanisum

5.1Thermal Test Vehicle

Characterized thermal test dies were assembled in QFN
and HQFN packages. The silicon test die size was 0.81x3.81
mm and 0.3 mm thick. Throught the die, resistors are
embedded for heating. 21ayer(2L) and 41ayer(41.) boards
were made as per the JEDEC standards (for the test, two
different types of PCB board were used: i) 2L PCB board
without thermal vias and ii) 4L PCB hoard with 4x4 thermal
vias). QFN and HQFN packages were mounted on 2L and
4L boards by appropriate method. Thermal test vehicle was
made for each of the sample as per the following design of
experiments tahle(Table2)
Table 2.

Ri- Intemal thermal resistance

Re-Extemal thermal resistance
By examining the above figure, two conductive heat
transfer paths exist for QFN package. i) Heat from the heat
source (active side of the die) is conducted through silicon,
through die attach, into the interconnections and to the PCB. I
ii) the other path allows the heat to flow from silicon,
through mold compound and leaves as convection and
As the main objective is to enhance the thermal Packaee
performance of QFN package, the primary modes o f heat
transfer have to be analysed. To improve thermal
performance, conductive resistance or internal resistance Ri
and extemal thermal resistance Re has to be reduced. An
effcient thermal flow path can be possible to reduce the
thermal resistance. An addition of a highly conductive heat
spreader on the die and above which metal housing could
he attaced to the top o f the package. This would allow the





With metal housing




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As per Jedec JESD 51-1, junction temperature was

measured by standard Electrical Test Metod(ETM) to
characterize the package[3]. For each thermal test vehicle,
thermal test die has undergone K factor calibration in a
heating oven to findout the slope and intercept for the
following equation.
Where T is the temperature
k is the slope, V is the sensing voltage and
c is the intercept of the curve
The experimental measurements of QFN and HQFN
packages were performed for various flow rates of O m i s ,
Imis and 2 d s in a wind tunnel[4]&[5]. For HQFN package
2.5x2.5x0.2 mm copper and silicon heat spreader was used.
Each test vehicle was horizontally mounted in the center of
the test section of the wind tunnel. Generic thermal
measurement digaram is given in the Fig 6 . And a typical
measeurement setup is shown in the Fig 7.

1 watt heating power was given for each measurement

and sensing voltage was monitored to get the junction
temperature. And thermal resistance was calculated from the
equation (3) and (4).

6. CFD Modelling and Simulation

A three-dimensional QFN model was created using
commercially available finite volume based CFD
(Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulation software
Flotherm 4.1. Basic model was created by web based tool
called FLOPACK. The package was modeled as a 48L QFN
of body size 7x7".
The simulations were done as per
Jedec JESD51 specifications with 2-layer and 4-layer test
board. Quarter and half model symmetry were used in
natural and forced convection test enclosure respectively to
reduce the computational time. The die size used in the
simulation is 3.81x3.81mm, die dissipation power is 1W and
kept the ambient temperature as 25 deg. C. All the
simulations were done under Jedec standard outlined
procedures with steady state condition. A typical HQFN
Flotherm wire frame model is shown in the Fig. 8.

Fig S. Wire frame model of HQFN package

Fig 6 . Generic diagram for thermal characterization of IC
Wind tunnel test

7. Results and Discussions

7.1 CFD Model Validation:
A comparison of computationally predicted junction
temperatures and measured junction temperatures for 2L
board with Omis, lmis and Zmis airflow conditions are
shown in Fig 9 and Fig 10. In HQFN simulation, effect on
thermal resistance eja for copper and silicon heat spreader
material were similar. Hence, to compare the thermal
performance between QFN and HQFN package, silicon heat
spreader HQFN was taken.
It can be seen from the two plots that the computational
models predicted junction temperatures within 10% of the
experimentally measured values.

Fig 7. QFN and HQFN measurement setup


2003 Electronics Packaging Technology Conference

Validation of HQFN model

-C Experiments

Max.9.1 %error




Ai: meed&)


Fig 9.Validation graph of HQFN

Validation of QFN model

95 1

I +Simulation


Max.7.3 %

Air speed(m/s)


Fig IO. Validation graph for QFN

1.2 Effect of Metal Housing

For analysis, numerical model results for QFN and

HQFN packages were investigated at the power level of 1
watt with the flow rate of 0"s and 2mis. The temperature
profiles of QFN and HQFN with metal housing are shown in
Fig 11 and Fig 12.
As the basic model was validated, it was used to
compare the performance of QFN and HQFN packages with
and without metal housing in 2L PCB hoard. It is shown in
the Fig. 13. It can he seen from the figure that there is a
drastic improvement in thermal performance using metal
housing. There was a great reduction in junction
temperature by increasing the heat transfer surface area at
the package top. Comparison of QFN and HQFN packages
with metal housing is shown in the Fig 14. When compare
the thermal performance of QFN and HQFN with metal
housing, HQFN has given better thermal improvement
(10.4 %) than QFN package. This is mainly due to a
reduction in conductance resistance of the package across
the heat transfer path from the die to metal housing.

Fig 12. Temperature profile of HQFN at 2 d s

Effect of metal housing

100 I

1 1

Fig 13. Column chart to compare metal housing effect


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Comuarison of thermal enhancements in metal


change in thermal conductivity from 0.3 to 3 W1m.K result

in good thermal improvement for both 0 d s and 2mis
condition. It can be seen from the Fig 15 that thermal
saturation i s almost achieved when HSA material thermal
conductivity around 3 Wim K for both natural and forced air
environmenatal conditions.


3 36


7.3.2 Effect of Heat Spreader Size:

The model was simulated for various heat spreader sizes
and results were obtained. The Fig 16 shows the effect of
heat spreader size. Increasing the heat spreader size means,
increasing heat conductance path. So it is possible to
achieve better heat transfer from the die. Thereby, reduction
in junction temperature.


+ 34


Effect of heat spreader size (at HSA- 3WimK)

Fig 14. Comparison of thermal improvement
7.3 Sensitivity Analysis
The validated HQFN model described in the previous
section was used to perform the serious of simulations to
find thermal features of the package. The validated models
of the packages were simulated as per the JEDEC
environmental conditions for the following cases.
I) For various HSA material thermal conductivity and
2) For various heat spreader size
7.3.1 Effect of HSA Thermal Conductivity
2 3 x 2 3 mm heat spreader is mounted on the die with
HSA material. Because of the HSA material, there is a
thermal interface resistance. Hence, it was necessary to
know the effect of thermal interface resistance in the heat
flow path. Thereby, a study was done on varying the HSA
material conductivity.
Effect of HSA material thermal conductivity





1.2 1.6 2
2.4 2.8
Heat sureader size in mm


Fig 16. Effect ofheat spreader size

It can be seen from the above Fig 16 that considerable
reduction in theta Ja value while varying the heat spreader
size from 0.4x0.4x0.2 mm to 3.2x3.2x0.2 mm under O d s
and 2m/s wind speed for 3 WimK HSA material thermal

HOFN at Omis

Effect of heat spreader size on HQFN thermal

performance (at HSA-3WlmK)

QFN at 2 d s


HSA material thermal conductivity(W/m K)

8 , -

Fig 15. Effect ofHSA thermal conductivity

Increasing the HSA material thermal conductivity
greatly improves the WQFN thermal performance. A



Heat smeader size in mm



Fig 17. Thermal improvement with heat spreader size


2003 Electronics Packaging Technology Conference

The above Fig 17 depicts the variation in thermal

improvement over the heat spreader size. For 3.2x3.2 mm
heat spreader size, maximum of 15.9% and 36.3% thermal
improvement can be acheived at OmIs and 2mIs wind speed

The authors would like to thank the management of
UTAC for their support in bringing out this paper. And also
the authors would like to thank Temasek Polytechnic
student Mr. Chew Keng Yeow for helping in dbing the

I. Kaveh Azar, Thermal measurements in eleclronics
cooling, CRC, Press, 1997.
2. Bruce M. Guenin, Packaging: designing for thermal
performance, Electronics cooling, May 1997, pp.14-19
measurement method-Electrical Test Method (Single
semiconductor device), Dec 1995.
4. EIAIJESDS 1-2, Integrated circuits thermal test method
environmental conditions- Natural convection(Stil1
air), Dec 1995
5. EIAIJESDS 1-6, Integrated circuits thermal test method
environmental conditions- Forced convection(Moving
air), Mar 1999
6. EIAIJESDS1-4, Thermal test chip guideline, Feb
7. EIAIJESDSI-5, Extension of thermal test board
standards for packages with direct thermal attachment
mechanisms. Feb 1999.
8. J.P.Holman, Heat transfer (Fifth Edition), McCrawHill, 198I ,
9. Pecht, Micheal G, Electronic Packaging: Materials
and their properties, CRC Press, 1999

Effect Heat spreader size (at HSA 3 WImK)


-C HQFN at 0s
HQFN at 2 d s








sO 74

0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6 2 2.4 2.8

Heat sDreader size in mm


Fig 18. Effect of heat spreader size in heat flow

In some applications, more heat flow to the PCB cause
problem to other components of PCB. So, in such
application, it is always desired to get more heat dissipation
on the package top. It can be seen from the Fig 18. that heat
flow to the package top increases as heat spreader size
increases. This is because of increase in beat spreader size,
thermal conductive resistance reduces along the package
top. Hence, heat flow to the packge top increases. On the
other hand, the heat flow to the PCB reduces as heat
spreader size increases.
8. Conclusion

The new HQFN package is modelled and validated

with experimental results for 2L hoard with natural and
forced convection. From the analysis, it is capable of
providing lower thermal resistance to the heat transfer path
than QFN package under the condition where a major
portion of heat can he dissipated on the package top in
natural convection. From the sensitivity analysis, it is
concluded that substantial
amount of
enchancement i.e., reduction in 0ja can be attained with
higher thermal conductivity HSA material and maximum
heat spreader size.
9. Future Work

It is required to complete the detailed simulation and

experimental analysis of HQFN package on 4L board under
natural as well as forced air environmental conditions to
assess its performance.


2003 Electronics Packaging Technology Conference