All DC/DC converters dissipate power in the form of heat. This heat has to be managed properly so that the converter maintains operation within the recommended temperature limits. Usually, the copper on the printed circuit board (PCB) is utilized to help dissipate the heat. This application note outlines a design procedure to quickly estimate the minimum required copper area on the PCB for a successful thermal design with DC/DC power modules.
Imagine you just designed your DC/DC converter, and it turns out it is not 100% efficient. This is not surprising and means that some heat will always be generated in the power conversion process. This heat has to be dissipated properly into the ambient because high temperatures can affect the lifetime, as well as the operation of the converter and the nearby circuits.
The PCB design and copper area is very important for a good thermal design of any DC/DC power converter but is often difficult to predict how much PCB copper area is really enough. Given the application requirements (for example, input voltage, output voltage, output current, and maximum ambient temperature), how would you estimate the minimum required board area to keep the DC/DC converter solution cool enough?
This application note from Texas Instruments provides a quick design procedure to get you started.
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