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Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

3D Modeling and Simulation of the Electromagnetic and Thermal

Properties of Microwave and Millimeter Wave Electronics Packages
Jian Ding, David Linton
The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), Queen’s University
Belfast, Northern Ireland Science Park, Queen’s Road, Queen’s Island, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT3
Email: j.ding@ecit.qub.ac.uk

Abstract: The COMSOL Multiphysics™ being investigated for the physical layout
package has been used in this work to model and solidity.
simulate the electromagnetic and thermal Therefore, predictive design, based on
properties of GaAs pHEMT based Monolithic accurate thermal and electromagnetic models and
Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMIC) and a simulations, is quite necessary before the
multi-chip millimeter wave package including a electronic circuits being manufactured.
Low Temperature Co-fired Ceramic (LTCC) COMSOL Multiphysics™ is an efficient
antenna array. Embedded shielding ground package that implements this simulation
planes inside the ceramic and silicon carriers approach in microwave and millimeter wave
have been studied. The temperature increase of circuits in which both thermal and
each component due to the self heating of the electromagnetic co-analysis are supported [2].
power devices in the packages was simulated A GaAs pHEMT based MMIC amplifier
coupled with the static electromagnetic analysis. package was modeled and simulated in
Simulation results of the MMIC structures were COMSOL Multiphysics™ to obtain the
compared with the results from an analysis temperature profile. Electro-thermal simulations
method based electro-thermal simulator of the amplifier were also performed using a
fREEDA™. The need for thermal vias was spice-like circuit simulator fREEDA™ [3].
demonstrated as essential parts of the package A 65GHz RF transmitter module, which is
for thermal cooling purposes. the foundation of wireless communication
systems, has been designed by applying
Keywords: Monolithic Microwave Integrated multilayer SiP technology. A family of QUB
Circuits (MMIC), System-in-Package (SiP), Low OMMIC MMICs in GaAs pHEMT D01PH
Temperature Co-fired Ceramic (LTCC), thermal technology was used to supply 65GHz signals to
model, thermal vias, temperature an antenna array [4]. Low Temperature Co-fired
Ceramic (LTCC), which is a popular
1. Introduction manufacturing technology for millimeter wave
applications, was used to build a compact 65GHz
Increasing miniaturization in microwave and 2×2 microstrip phased array antenna. The MMIC
millimeter wave circuits is being driven by the die and LTCC antenna module are positioned in
requirement for portability and low power cavities within a silicon substrate.
consumption. With the closer integration of Electromagnetic shielding and thermal issues of
active and passive components in packages it is the whole module were analyzed using
now increasingly difficult to dissipate the COMSOL Multiphysics™. Metallic gridded
thermal power generated from the power devices ground planes and thermal cooling has been
[1]. This results in an increase in average active improved based on the simulation results.
device temperature pushing junction
temperatures to dangerous levels. This will 2. GaAs MMIC Amplifier and System-in-
adversely affect the electrical performance of Package Transmitter Module
devices leading to failure.
Due to the miniaturized package, high 2.1 GaAs MMIC Amplifier
density of the power devices and microwave or Electro-thermal simulations were carried out
millimeter wave operation frequency, for a GaAs MMIC amplifier using fREEDA™
electromagnetic shielding inside the package is package. Temperature increase at the junction of
becoming more and more important and worth the power device and the electrical performance
Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

influenced by the thermal effect were obtained.

Figure 1 shows the schematic of the amplifier
circuit in the package fREEDA™.
Thermal model of the MMIC die was setup
in COMSOL Multiphysics™ as a cubic with
single central surface heating element as shown
in Figure 2.

Figure 3. Block diagram of the 65GHz transmitter

module [6].

multilayer LTCC technology [6]. Beam steering

can be obtained by varying the phase of
Antenna Patches
individual antenna elements using phase shifters.
Figure 1. Circuit schematic of the GaAs MMIC Stripline feed
The side view of the LTCC structure Partially
is shown in Gridded
amplifier simulated in fREEDA™ [5]. Ceramic Ground Planes
CPW Figure 4.

AgPt Via Silver Via Probe

Figure 2. GaAs MMIC die model in COMSOL

Figure 4. Side View of the LTCC antenna (size not in
2.2 System-in-Package Transmitter Module scale).

The multi-chip transmitter module was Inductively-coupled-plasma reactive ion

designed in modular form, consisting of a etching (ICP-RIE) is applied to make device
32GHz oscillator, a 32GHz power amplifier, a wells in the silicon substrate for all the
32/64GHz doubler, an up-converter, three components. Well lateral dimension and well
64GHz phase shifters, four 64-66GHz power depth are carefully controlled for the active
amplifiers and four microstrip antennas. The MMIC dies and antenna package. Summaries of
block diagram of the designed transmitter all the MMIC dies, LTCC antenna and silicon
module is shown in Figure 3. substrate are shown in table 1. A top view of the
A GaAs chip set has already been developed whole System-in-Package is shown in Figure 5.
at 65GHz using OMMIC GaAs pHEMT D01PH
technology targeted at wireless LAN operation 3. COMSOL Multiphysics™ Models and
[4]. A 65GHz 2×2 Microstrip phase array
Simulation Results
antenna was designed and fabricated using
The thermal model of the MMIC die and
multi-chip System-in-Package was setup and
analyzed using COMSOL Multiphysics™.
Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

Figure 6 shows the meshing of the cubic MMIC ( )

n ⋅ (κ ⋅ ∇T ) = q + h(Tinf − T ) + Const Tamb − T 4 (2)

die model with a single central surface heating

element. Figure 7 shows the temperature Equation (1) was set up for sub-domain
distribution of the MMIC die model with a 100 analyses and Equation (2) was for boundary
KHz input signal shortly after switch on using analyses. Detailed meaning of the parameters in
transient analysis. Figure 8 shows the both equations is shown in Table 2. Table 3 is
temperature variation of the MMIC amplifier the summary of the thermal properties of
with a 1MHz input signal from transient analysis different materials in the package.
in both fREEDA™ and COMSOL

Component Name Size ( mm 3 )

32GHz Oscillator QUBOSC5 3×2×0.1
32GHz Power Amplifier QUBAMP2 3×1×0.1
32/64GHz Doubler QUBDOUB 2×1.5×0.1
Mixer QUBMIX4 2×1.5×0.1
64GHz Phase Shifter QUBPS1 1.5×1×0.1
64GHz Power Amplifier QUBCIRC1 3×2×0.1
LTCC Antenna Array ------ 18×18×1.2
Silicon Substrate ------ 34×30×1
Table 1. Component summary of the System-in- Figure 6. Meshing of the cubic MMIC die model with
Package. a single central surface heating element.

Figure 7. Temperature distribution of a MMIC

amplifier thermal model 50 micro-seconds after switch
on from transient simulation in COMSOL
Figure 5. Top View of the transmitter module. Multiphysics™.

Thermal stress is induced in the System-in- Active devices (pHEMTs) were modeled as
Package transmitter module due to the high 20μm × 20μm squares dissipating power on the
thermal gradient around devices with dissimilar central surface of each MMIC die. About 50,000
TCE. Meshing of the whole package model that meshes were generated using the meshing tool in
was setup using COMSOL Multiphysics™ is COMSOL Multiphysics™. Stationary nonlinear
shown in Figure 9. Two main thermal equations simulations were performed on the whole
that were solved in the 3D thermal analysis are: package with and without thermal vias.
− ∇ ⋅ (κ ⋅ ∇ T ) = Q (1) Figure 10 and Figure 11 shows the
simulation results of the package temperature
distribution with and without thermal vias
Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

respectively. The temperature of the pHEMT on Silicon GaAs LTCC Thermal

the oscillator MMIC die in the package arises vias
about 75 degrees after the heat dissipation Thermal
reaches steady state without thermal vias as conductivity 163 55 2 400
shown in Figure 10 (d), while it rises no more W/(m·K)
than 15 degrees in the simulation with thermal Density 2330 5320 2450 8700
vias as shown in Figure 11 (d). Kg/ m 3

310 Heat 703 330 900 385

Table 3. Thermal properties of different materials in the
Temperature (K)


Vds = 3V
Vgs = -0.3V
302 f = 1MHz

(a) (b)
0 1 2 3 4 5
Time ( μs )

Figure 8. Temperature variation of the amplifier

MMIC die from transient simulation in fREEDA™
(Red line) and COMSOL Multiphysics™ (Black line,
central point on the top surface of the MMIC die).
(c) (d)
Figure 10. Steady-state simulation results of the
temperature distribution of the package without
thermal vias, (a) 3D view of the boundary temperature
distribution of the whole package, (b) temperature
distribution of one slice inside the silicon substrate, (c)
temperature distribution of the area around the
oscillator MMIC die, (d) temperature distribution of
the area around the pHEMT in the oscillator MMIC

4. Thermal Vias Improvement

Figure 9. Meshing of the thermal model for the Simulation results illustrate that thermal vias
System-in-Package transmitter module. are very necessary structures inside the package
to effectively speed up the heat dissipation and
κ Thermal conductivity reduce the maximum temperature in the active
Q Heat dissipation inside the sub-domain regions of the package when the whole system
q Heat dissipation on the boundary surface reaches steady state. The cross section
h Heat transfer coefficient (convection) temperature through one of the oscillator MMIC
devices is shown in Figure 12. The effect of
Tinf Initial temperature of the boundary surface
thermal vias is clear by reducing the peak
Const Problem-dependent constant (radiation) temperature from 368K to a more manageable
Tamb Ambient temperature 315K.
Table 2. Meaning of the parameters in above equations
Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

5. Conclusions

Two different simulation methods have been

used to model similar problems for a GaAs
MMIC amplifier. For circuit synthesis
fREEDATM provides fast efficient prediction of
electro-thermal performance while COMSOLTM
(a) (b) extends this to give the thermal profile around a
MMIC die and associated package.
This paper has also presented a compact
65GHz transmitter module with a LTCC phased
array antenna and functional MMICs, which
includes oscillator, power amplifier, doubler, up-
converter and phase shifter implemented in
(c) (d) GaAs pHEMT technology. All the components
were embedded within a 3.4cm × 3cm silicon
Figure 11. Steady-state simulation results of the substrate. Based on the 3D model which was set
temperature distribution of the package with thermal up in COMSOL Multiphysics™, electromagnetic
vias, (a) 3D view of the boundary temperature shielding and thermal cooling factors which
distribution of the whole package, (b) temperature consist of package size, well depth, space
distribution of one slice inside the silicon substrate, (c) between dies and bonding pads, extension of the
temperature distribution of the area around the gridded ground plane and thermal vias influence
oscillator MMIC die, (d) temperature distribution of
etc. have been studied. Physical properties of the
the area around the pHEMT in the oscillator MMIC
die module have been improved based on the results
revealed from the analyses. The use of thermal
vias has been presented about their advantages in
heat dissipation of the whole package.
Wit h t her mal vias

Wit hout t her mal vias

6. References

1. D. Edenfeld, A.B. Kahng, M. Rodgers and Y.
330 Zorian, “2003 technology roadmap for
semiconductors”, Computer, Vol.37, Issue
1, pp.47-56, Jan. 2004
2. COMSOL Multiphysics™ Software and
3 10

0 . 0 0 12 0 . 0 0 13 0 . 0 0 14 0 . 0 0 15 0 . 0 0 16 0 . 0 0 17 0 . 0 0 18
Manuals, www.comsol.com
Os c i l l at or M M I C D i e Di s t anc e (m) 3. fREEDA™ Software and Manuals,
Figure 12. Simulated surface temperature across the 4. N. B. Buchanan, T. Brabetz and V. F. Fusco,
Oscillator GaAs MMIC device with and without “Multifunction 62-66 GHz Dual Channel, Dual
thermal vias Circuit schematic of the GaAs MMIC Band Phase Sensitive Transceiver”, 31th
amplifier simulated in fREEDA™
European Microwave Conference Proceedings,
Vol.3, pp.161-164, Sept. 2001
The results also demonstrate that thermal
5. W. Batty, C.E. Christoffersen, A.J. Panks, S.
vias do not have as much influence for
David, C.M. Snowden and M.B. Steer, “Electro-
temperature rising of the passive areas in the
thermal CAD of power devices and circuits with
package as for the active devices in the package.
fully physical time-dependent compact thermal
In the results shown in Figure 10 and Figure 11,
modeling of complex nonlinear 3-D systems”,
thermal vias reduce the temperature rising of the
IEEE Trans. on Components and Packaging
passive areas in the package by only around 7
Technologies, Vol.24, pp.566-590, Dec. 2001
degrees from 312K to 305K.
6. J. Ding, D. Linton, M. Armstrong, N. Mitchell
and V. Fusco, “Multiphysics Simulation of
Excerpt from the Proceedings of the COMSOL Users Conference 2006 Birmingham

Electromagnetic Shielding and Thermal

Stressing within Ceramic and Silicon Multilayer
Packages for RF Applications”, 1st Electronics
Systemintegration Technology Conference
Proceedings, Vol. I, pp.679-683, Sept. 2006
7. J.M. Hill, J.N. Dewynne, “Heat conduction”,
Oxford: Blackwell Scientific, ISBN 0632017163,

7. Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Malcolm Stubbs

and Alex Panther at CRC in Canada for their
advice in design of the LTCC antenna array and
to VTT in Finland for fabrication of the LTCC
device. The design and fabrication experience of
Dr Paul Rainey in the Northern Ireland
Semiconductor Research Centre is also
acknowledged. J. Ding would like to
acknowledge financial support by the
International Centre for System-on-Chip and
Advanced Mircowireless Integration (SoCAM)
in the Institute of ECIT, Queen’s University