Semiconductor Cooling Plate: What It Is and Why It Is Used

Semiconductor Cooling  Plate

A semiconductor cooling plate is a device that uses the principles of thermodynamics to transfer heat away from electronic devices. This type of cooling is often used in applications where traditional cooling methods, like fans or heat sinks, are not feasible. By using a semiconductor cooling plate, you can keep your electronic equipment from overheating and prolong its lifespan. 

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what a semiconductor cooling plate is and why it is used in the industry. We will also explore some of the key benefits that this type of device can provide.

What Are Semiconductor Cooling / Cold Plates?

Semiconductor Cooling Plate

A semiconductor cold plate is a vital part of thermoelectric coolers, which is a device or medium that uses thermal conduction to keep other electronics from overheating and other transverse effects, etc that could damage the final product. 

How Do Semiconductors Work Together with the Cooling Plate?

How semiconductor cooling plate works

The cold plate is made of ceramic to eliminate the need for an additional insulator and has two unique semiconductors at each end, connected in a p-n (positive-negative) junction. This setup is why it is called a semiconductor cold plate although it is not the most common name. The p-type and n-type semiconductors are arranged in such a manner because of their difference in electron densities and hole concentrations which allow the flow of electric current from one junction to another. 

The hot end is attached to a heat sink to ensure the device does not falter from ambient temperatures. The semiconductor device in between transports the remaining heat to the other side, once a voltage is applied to the thermoelectric cooler device. This process is called thermoelectric cooling. We will also explore the science behind it below.  

Thermoelectric Cooling

Thermoelectric cooling

As explained above, semiconductor cold plates work on the principle that heat is transferred from one side to the other based on an applied voltage proportional to a temperature difference, which maintains the temperature of the semiconductor device. This happens through the thermoelectric effect explained below, which also consists of the Peltier effect which we have discussed too. 

The thermoelectric effect is the technology that converts temperature fluctuations to electrical voltage and vice versa through the use of a temperature probe. A thermoelectric device generates a voltage when the temperature on each side differs. Heat is transmitted from one end to the other when a voltage is supplied to it, resulting in a temperature variation. An imposed temperature gradient causes excited electrons in the device to disperse from the hot side to the cold side at the atomic level.

This effect has the potential to generate electric current, evaluate temperature, and alter the temperature of materials. Because the input power directly impacts the direction of heating and cooling, thermoelectric equipment can be used as a temperature control system.

The Peltier Effect

When electricity is passed through a thermocouple circuit, heat is produced at one intersection and assimilated at the other. The occurrence of heating or cooling at an electric-powered intersection of two distinct conductors is known as the Peltier effect. When a current is passed through an intersection of two conductors, namely A, and B, heat can be produced or eliminated. Some common solutions used for the Peltier effect include bismuth telluride, antimony telluride, and bismuth selenide due to their effective performance with varying temperatures and the ability to be used as both an n-type and p-type semiconductor. 

Outside of usage to power electronics, this effect is also used in medical scopes to aid in the polymerase chain reaction to amplify DNA. If you are interested in the equation and science involving the Peltier coefficient for each respective conductor etc, you can check out Thermoelectric Effect.

Thermoelectric cooler

Advantages of Semiconductor Cooling Plates

The benefits of using a cold plate are almost too many to count. They allow for low maintenance and a long lifetime, and they’re versatile enough that you can control which direction the cooling effect must take place. It also allows the heat sinks to be connected appropriately and ensures that the devices are at optimal performance unaffected by temperature fluctuations and varying electric power applications. Finally–and most importantly!–is how much smaller do these devices get when compared to other methods while still providing excellent performance?

Applications of Semiconductor Cold Plates

Depending on the type of thermoelectric cooler, it can be used in various applications. Whether you use a single-stage thermoelectric cooler or other types of semiconductor cold plates, below are some of its use cases across diverse industries. This is not forgetting the most common electronics like refrigerators, microwaves, and other semiconductor-powered electronics.   

  • Automotive
  • Industrial
  • Telecommunications
  • Medical
  • Aerospace & Defense
  • Oil, Gas, and Mining

Source Your Semiconductor Components from a Reliable Supplier

Semiconductor cooling plates ensure that temperature changes do not affect the overall device performance while also preventing overheating. It is an important aspect of the overall functionality of a semiconductor device and the applications it is used in. The use cases extend from high-power day-to-day electronics to medical apparatus, and more.  

Inquivix Technologies is a partner of many semiconductor manufacturers. We supply various components used in the semiconductor manufacturing process Including aluminum alloys. To see what we supply, check out our website or contact us.


Why Do Semiconductors Need to Be Cooled?

Semiconductors are used to conduct electricity which causes the device to heat very quickly. If the heat generated within a semiconductor device is not dispersed, it will begin to overheat and eventually cease functioning irreversibly.

What Material Is Used for Cooling Plates?

While copper possesses remarkable thermal conductivity, it is aluminum that reigns supreme in the cold plate industry due to its cost-effectiveness, lightweight design, and ease of manipulation. Despite advancements in technology allowing such alternative materials as copper to be used, aluminum remains the go-to choice for most manufacturers.

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