The Advent of Solid State Solutions for Thermal Management

June 27, 2019

Designers and engineers are always in need of new ways to combat the heat loads generated by today’s densely packed, high performance electronics. Often this results in loud and costly solutions when which can include air, water, and immersion cooling systems and reliance on ambient cooling.

An area worth any designer’s attention is cooling based on solid state technology. Solid state heat pump devices provide cooling and heating options that allow for smarter design of thermal systems while providing highly accurate temperature controls and minimizing required electrical power.

Thermoelectric heat-pump cooling provides a way to use active cooling components in an intelligent way to mitigate the size, noise level, and cost of the thermal management systems. And that’s not all. These newly configured systems can also allow for better thermal control and facilitate the electronic components in a wider array of environments and packaging.

Benefits of TEC

While refrigerators and air conditioners utilize compressors, condensers, and liquid refrigerants to lower temperature, solid state cooling utilizes DC power, heat sinks, and semiconductors. This fundamental difference gives solid state thermoelectric coolers the following advantages over compressors:

  • No moving parts. They require little or no maintenance making them ideal for cooling parts which may be sensitive to mechanical vibration.
  • No refrigerants, such as potentially harmful CFC’s, so they are environmentally safe.
  • Reduced or low-noise operation of cooling fans, while providing greater cooling power.
  • Can be manufactured in very small sizes, ideal for microelectronics.
  • They’re lightweight.
  • They provide a long life. 100,000 hours MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures).
  • They can be controlled (by voltage / current).
  • Fast and dynamic in response.
  • Enhanced ration between heat sink and target element.
  • Provides cooling below ambient temperature.


Heat or Cool with Phononics’s SilverCore™ Technology

In addition to the ability to manipulate temperatures and thermal resistance by cooling, solid state devices like Phononics’s SilverCore™ technology can actually switch polarity and pump heat into the system. What’s the benefit of this? In some circumstances, electronics are being asked to work in ever widening temperature environments, some as low as -40°C. Many battery systems and delicate electronic components cannot effectively operate at such temperatures.

Our solid state solutions provide nearly the same performance in “form-factor” flexible designs, with the added ability to provide heating, as well. And that’s not all, these solid state cooling and heating devices can be designed to work in conjunction with existing heat sinks and fans. The result is an improvement in performance without the need of a complete rebuild.

Thermal Management Independent of Ambient Conditions

The addition of a solid state cooling and heating device to a thermal system allows for thermal relief in both cold and hot ambient conditions. The key to understanding an active/passive architecture is to recognize each thermal system as a unique, application-specific design. The ability of these types of systems to provide precise temperature control allows the design of form-factor flexible solutions at the component, board, or system level to address the specific thermal challenges of each design. Designers and engineers are free to reimagine their entire thermal management strategy, allowing new and innovative designs for consumers.