Researchers found a way to reduce overheating of semiconductor devices

June 01, 2023

(Nanowerk News) Demands to shrink the size of semiconductors coupled with the problem of heat generated in device hot spots not being dispersed effectively has negatively impacted the reliability and durability of modern devices. Existing thermal management technologies are not up to the task. Thus, the discovery of a new way of spreading heat using surface waves generated on a thin metal film on a substrate is an important breakthrough.

KAIST announced that Professor Bong Jae Lee’s research team in the Department of Mechanical Engineering succeeded in measuring the newly observed heat transfer induced by a ‘surface plasmon polariton’ (SPP) in a thin metal film deposited on a substrate for the first time in the world.

The study was published in Physical Review Letter (“Increasing Thermal Conductivity with Polariton Surface Plasmon Spreading Along Thin Ti Films”). Schematic diagram of the principle of measuring the thermal conductivity of a Titanium (TI) thin film and the thermal conductivity of a surface plasmon polariton measured on a Ti film. (Image: KAIST)

Surface plasmon polariton (SPP) refers to surface waves that are formed on metal surfaces as a result of the strong interaction between electromagnetic fields at the interface between the dielectric and metal and free electrons on the metal surface and similar collective vibrating particles.

The research team used surface plasmon polariton (SPP), which are surface waves generated at the metal-dielectric interface, to enhance thermal diffusion in nanoscale thin metal films. Because this new mode of heat transfer occurs when a thin metal film is deposited on a substrate, it is very useful in device manufacturing processes and has the advantage of being able to produce over large areas. The research team demonstrated that the thermal conductivity increases by about 25% due to surface waves generated on a 100 nm thick titanium (Ti) film with a radius of about 3 cm.

KAIST Professor Bong Jae Lee, who led the research, said, “The significance of this study is that a new heat transfer mode using surface waves over a thin metal film deposited on a substrate with low processing difficulty has been identified for the first time in It can be applied as a nanoscale heat spreaders to efficiently remove heat near hot spots for easily overheated semiconductor devices.”

The results have major implications for the future development of high-performance semiconductor devices as they can be applied to rapidly remove heat on nanoscale thin films. In particular, the new heat transfer mode identified by the research team is expected to solve the fundamental problem of thermal management in semiconductor devices as it enables more effective heat transfer at nanoscale thicknesses while the thermal conductivity of thin films usually decreases due to boundary scattering effects.

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