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Thermal Management Improvements for Transmit/Receive Modules


OBJECTIVE: The objective is to develop bonding and sealing technologies for radar and electronic warfare (EW) Transmit/Receive (T/R) modules that achieve thermal management requirements for reliability, environment, endurance, and current assembly flows. DESCRIPTION: Recent Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Office of Naval Research (ONR) Programs have developed thermal management technologies (Refs. 1-5) for Transmit/Receive (T/R) modules and assemblies. They have demonstrated significant improvements in thermal performance for current radar/Electronics Warfare (EW) programs. Thermal Ground Plane (TGP) vapor chambers have been developed to provide significant thermal spreading improvements. Additionally, NanoThermal Interface (NTI) technologies and materials significantly reduce z-axis thermal conduction from power amplifier devices into TGP thermal spreaders. However, innovative bonding and sealing materials to reduce costs while providing manufacturing process improvements to increase production are needed for TGI and NTI technologies to provide reliable operation over the life time of high power Radio Frequency (RF) systems and be usable in current assembly flows. The Navy seeks innovative thermal bonding and sealing technology improvements to current radar/EW systems processes. The new processes can address either manufacturing or material changes to achieve the desired improvements. The technology must address reliability and manufacturing compatibility with current manufacturing flows while improving reliable thermal heat conduction from high power microcircuits to their heat sinks. Thermal resistance between the die-attach and the aperture should achieve a reduction of 25% over current standards. Solutions should accommodate large thermal coefficient of expansion (TCE) mismatches between the device or carrier and the package, with the lowest thermal resistance performance attainable. The need for specialized polishing, oxide removal, or cleaning processes to facilitate rework and assembly, should be avoided. Solutions should also provide low cost, large area, hermetic RF packaging incorporating high effectiveness conductivity (>500W/mK) heat spreading base materials. Multi-piece RF package architectures with soldered or brazed RF and direct current (DC) feedthrus are preferred. System constraints considered for the technology solution proposed will meet reliability requirements of shipboard Radar and EW systems. Operating conditions, thermal dissipation densities, operating temperatures, steady and transient state loads, 20-30 year life/reliability, and shipping and depot storage environments for maintenance support should all be considerations in developing the new technology. The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information. If need be, data of the same level of complexity as secured data will be provided to support Phase I work. The Phase II effort may require secure access, and the contractor will need to be prepared for personnel and facility certification for secure access. PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for improved innovative thermal bonding and sealing technologies that meet the requirements described above. The contractor will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Navy needs and will establish that the concepts can be feasibly developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestone and, that will address technical risk reduction. PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a scaled prototype for evaluation as appropriate. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in Phase II development plan and the Navy requirements for the thermal bonding and sealing technologies. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use. PHASE III: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The company will develop the thermal sealing and bonding technology for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Thermal management technologies and manufacturing improvements developed under this topic will have direct application in commercial aperture systems used in communications and radar systems. These improvements can be used in applications such as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and communications industries. REFERENCES: 1. Kenny, Thomas."Thermal Ground Plane (TGP)."FedBizOpps DARPA-BAA-07-36. 16 April , 2007.2. Kenny, Thomas"NanoThermal Interfaces (NTI)."FedBizOpps DARPA-BAA-08-42. 05 Aug , 2008.3. Cohen, Dr. Avram Bar"Thermal Management Technologies (TMT)."Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microelectronic Technologies Office (MTO) Thermal Management Technologies (TMT) Website. 2012.4. Cai, Q., Chen, C-L., Xiong, G., and Ren, Z,"Explorations of Carbon Nanotube Wick Structure for High Heat Flux Cooling,"Proceedings of the ASME Summer Heat Transfer Conference, Jacksonville, FL, 2008 5. Altman, D., Wasniewski, J., North, M., Kim, S., & Fisher, T. (2011)."Development of Micro/Nano Engineered Wick-Based Passive Heat Spreaders, Proceedings of the ASME."2011 Pacific Rim Technical Conference and Exhibition on Packaging and Integration of Electronic and Photonic Systems, MEMS and NEMS, IPACK2011-52122, 6-8 July, 2011, Portland, Oregon.
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