Design and reliability of polymeric packages for high voltage power semiconductors

2011-10-19T14:05:51Z (GMT) by Nadeesh Nobeen
This thesis focuses on the development of a novel polymer based housing for power thyristor devices typically used in long distance high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission. Power thyristor devices used in HVDC power conversion stations are typically packaged in a hermetically sealed ceramic housing and have demonstrated an excellent history of reliability and performance. However, to avoid increasing the number of thyristors in future higher powered HVDC schemes thyristors having higher power ratings at 8.5 kV and sizes at 125 mm and 150 mm diameters are sought for implementation to achieve higher transmission ratings of, for example, 4000 A at +/- 800 kV. The main disadvantages of such large ceramic-based packages are higher processing cost and weight whilst robustness is also a concern. To overcome these issues, replacing the current ceramic housing with a polymeric material has been investigated in this project. The advantages it is anticipated such packages will provide include lower cost, less weight, robustness, recyclability, etc. However, some challenges it will also offer are: non-hermeticity i.e. polymers are moisture and gas permeable, potentially more complex manufacturing routes, and different electrical, mechanical and thermal properties compared to ceramic materials. The work presented in this thesis was part of a larger project where these challenges have been addressed by developing and testing a prototype polymeric thyristor housing. The prototype is aimed at demonstrating that polymer packages can deliver performance and reliability comparable to, if not better than, current ceramic packages. In this thesis, it is the package development and reliability related studies that are discussed. Because the housings will experience severe electrical stresses and various thermal excursions during their service life, the electrical and thermo-mechanical behaviour of the polymer housing was studied using finite element analysis to gain an understanding of the effects of various design variables and materials properties on performance and the tradeoffs between performance and manufacturability. From these modelling studies, design guidelines have been established for the future development of polymer housings. On the other hand, to identify the physics-of-failure of the prototype that was manufactured as part of the project, accelerated life tests were performed to study its reliability. The knowledge gained from the polymer prototype development was then applied to the design of a larger 125 mm diameter housing using the Taguchi method of experimental design.