Grounding of Heatpipe/Heatspreader and Heatsink Structures for EMI Mitigation

Chen Wang
James L. Drewniak, Missouri University of Science and Technology
D. Wang
Ray Alexander
James L. Knighten
David M. Hockanson

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EMI problems caused by the presence of heatpipe/heatspreader and heatsink structures in a high-speed design are well known in engineering practice. High-frequency noise can be coupled from IC packages to an electrically conductive heatsink or heatspreader attached to the IC, which then is radiated, or the energy coupled to an enclosure cavity mode. This EMI coupling path was modeled with the finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method, and a mitigation approach was investigated. Good agreement between measurements and FDTD modeling is demonstrated, indicating FDTD is a suitable tool for analysis and design. Then, several grounding schemes suitable for a heatsink or heatspreader were compared using FDTD modeling. The results indicate that sufficiently connecting the heatspreader or heatsink to the top layer of the PCB, even without further electrically connecting to the PCB ground plane, can result in appreciable EMI reduction. Good electrical connection of the heatsink or heatspreader to the PCB ground plane through an SMT-mount approach can achieve a 10-25 dB reduction for EMI attributable to the proposed coupling path