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Reliability prediction for IGBT

modules under service conditions


M. Lederer, B. Czerny, B. Nagl and G. Khatibi
Vienna University of Technology
corresponding author: martin.lederer@tuwien.ac.at

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IGBT modules are used for traction applications

IGBT = insulated gate bipolar transistor


Under service conditions IGBT power modules are exposed to repeated
temperature changes due to Joule heating. Lifetimes of up to 30 years are
required!
Thermal mismatch of the constituent materials leads to thermo-mechanical
stresses limiting the lifetime.

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Thermo-electric coupled field analysis
Materials involved:
Chips are made of silicon.
There are aluminum wires.
The plate at the bottom is
aluminum oxide. The
silicon chips are soldered to
a copper plate. A part of the
aluminum oxide plate is
covered with copper.

Increase of the temperature within 1 second at 1,7 V.


The voltage was applied as boundary condition. In
consequence, the diode is in conducting direction while the
transistor is in reverse direction.

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Principle of coupled field analyses:
Either direct method or load transfer: In the direct analysis physical loads of
different kinds are simulated at the same time. According to the load transfer
method, different physical behaviours are calculated in subsequent analyses.

Here, at first an electric analysis was performed. Thereby, the electric current
was simulated which follows from boundary conditions for the voltage.

When the current is known,one may calculate the effect of Joule heating, i. e.
the increase of temperature due to electric current. As a result, one obtains the
temperature distribution.

Thus, the mechanical stresses are calculated for the given temperature field.

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Root cause for thermo-
mechanical stresses
Coefficients of thermal expansion for the constituent materials at room temperature :

Silicon: 2.6 ppm/K


Aluminum oxide: 5.7 ppm/K
Copper: 16.7 ppm/K
Solder: 20.2 ppm/K
Aluminum: 22.6 ppm/K
(In the simulation temperature dependent data were used.)

Electric current: up to 10 A per aluminum wire.

Largest heat source: silicon chip due to its rather high resistivity in conducting
direction.

Operating junction temperatures: up to 150C

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Thermo-mechanical coupled
field analysis
First part of the analysis:
The temperature
distribution is evaluated.
AC current was
assumed. The electric
conductivities of
materials were used to
calculate the heat
generation.

The IGBT is mounted


onto a larger base plate.

Diode is in forward direction while transistor is in reverse direction.

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Another timestep of the
transient analysis
Here, the diode is in
reverse direction while
the transistor is in
conducting direction.

The temperature
derived from the
thermal analysis is
afterwards used as
input for a mechanical
analysis.

The largest heat sources are the silicon chips, because of their high resistivity.

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Comment on the simulation of a
semiconductor under AC voltage:
Ansys supports only ohmic resistance during electric analyses.
Therefore, a thermal analysis was performed, where the heat
generation following from electric current was evaluated outside of
ANSYS. The values of heat generation for silicon were derived
from electric resistivity in the conducting direction together with
the values for the current. Thus, the heat generation data were used
as input to thermo-mechanical analyses.

Admittedly, the heating under AC voltage was not evaluated with


the same precision as under DC voltage. However, the simulation
results obtained for DC voltage were used for adjustment of the
heat generation under AC voltage. In this way a reasonable
approximation was achieved.

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Mechanical simulation using the
temperature distribution of the
thermal analysis
Due to their high
coefficient of thermal
expansion, the
aluminum wires move
upwards. A plot of
vertical displacements
is shown [mm].

Owing to AC voltage,
periodical vertical
motions of the wires
are observed.

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Comparison with experiments

Service conditions were simulated in a laboratory while temperature


distribution and displacements were measured.

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Accordance between Finite
Element simulation and
measurements
The service conditions during traction
applications were simulated by an experimental
setup in the laboratory using equivalent AC
voltage for the IGBT module.

Results of FEM simulations were compared with


those of a thermo - video camera.

Figure: Picture of a camera Periodical displacements of the aluminum wires


for thermal imaging. in the simulation were compared to
measurements done with a laser Doppler
vibrometer.

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An extended series of experiments
was compared to corresponding
FEM simulations
Experiments were performed for different AC voltages, for different operating and
switching frequencies. In this way the many different operating conditions of such a
module during service were simulated.

Periodical displacements were measured at more than 15 different points of the


setup.

FEM simulations were carried out for the same series of loading conditions as in the
experiments.

However, due to symmetry conditions only a quarter of a subsystem in the IGBT


module was simulated.

Agreement of experiments and simulations was achieved [1].

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Results for mechanical stress and strain
distribution
According to the weakest link
approach, we are searching for
that part of the device where the
highest value of mechanical
strain is found.

Lifetime estimations may now be


obtained when the maximum
values for von Mises stress or
plastic strain are inserted into the
Basquin relation or the Coffin
Manson model, respectively.
Figure: Cut view through a wire: Plot of the total
von Mises strain.

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Are the maxima of stress and strain
distribution mesh size dependent?
Unfortunately, the maximum values of stress and
strain are found at stress concentrations which
play the role of singularities.

On the other hand, these locations indicate where


the sample will finally break.

There are several approaches known in literature


which deal with this topic:

For instance stress intensity factors of fracture


mechanics or strain gradient theory.
Figure: The mesh used for the
simulations

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Comparison with an accelerated
mechanical fatigue test

A fast mechanical fatigue test [2]


was performed and simulated with
wire-bonds of the same type. The
amplitude of oscillation was
adjusted in the sense that the same
mechanical strain was found in
simulations of the IGBT module and
in the mechanical test.

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Conclusions
The experiments for the accelerated mechanical test fall in the range
of high cycle or ultra high cycle fatigue.

Comparison with simulations of the IGBT module show that the


requirements for applications are fullfilled.

Aside from the lift off failure mode of wire-bonds, the failure mode
of the device with the second highest probability is fracture of the
solder material.

The maximum strain values obtained from the simulations are rather
high for the case of high cycle fatigue. This seems to be due to strain
gradient effects as explained in reference [3].

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References
[1] B. Czerny, M. Lederer, B. Nagl, A. Trnka, G. Khatibi, M.
Thoben: Thermo-mechanical analysis of bonding wires in IGBT
modules under operating conditions, Microelectronics Reliability 52
(2012) 23532357

[2] G. Khatibi, M. Lederer, B. Weiss, T. Licht, J. Bernardi, and H.


Danninger; Accelerated Mechanical Fatigue Testing and Lifetime of
Interconnects in Microelectronics; Procedia Engineering 2 (2010)
511 519

[3] M. Lederer, G. Khatibi, D. Thuiner, and H. Danninger;


Modeling of fatigue crack initiation in wire-bonds using a novel
approach of strain gradient theory; Key Engineering Materials, Vols.
592-593 (2014) pp 246-249

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Thank you for your attention!

Acknowledgements:

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