Thermal stability in smart DLP automotive headlights

12th September 2019
Alex Lynn

Digital light processing (DLP) technology is now used in many smart automotive headlight systems to cast sharper and brighter light in front of a vehicle. These automotive headlight systems operate in temperature environments that can reach 110°C. However, the maximum operating temperature of a DLP is only 70°C.

Going beyond the temperature limits of a DLP risks non-operation or failure. Implementing a HiTemp ET Series thermoelectric cooler module protects the sensitive DLP electronics and ensures optimum performance.

The HiTemp ET Series is a Peltier cooler that delivers active spot cooling. The HiTemp ET Series can lower the control temperature by as much as 40°C below ambient dependent on active heat load. The Peltier cooler offers reliable solid-state construction, long life operation, and a compact form factor that fits into tight space constraints commonly found in automotive headlights.

In addition, Peltier coolers do not outgas, eliminating the coating build up on lens surfaces that can occur over time.

Compared to passive cooling solutions, the active HiTemp ET Series can be integrated similarly into a DLP automotive headlight system. A cold block and interface material are typically used on the cold side and comes in direct contact with the DLP. The cold block then comes in contact with the Peltier Cooler. When power is applied to the HiTemp ET Series, heat is absorbed by the Peltier Module and pumped to the hot side. A heat dissipation mechanism, which is typically a heat sink and fan, then rejects the heat into the surrounding environment.

"The amount of electronic content going into vehicles is astonishing. This is creating all kinds of thermal challenges that are not seen with consumer grade electronics because they typically operate in room temperature environments," said Andrew Dereka, Product Director at Laird Thermal Systems. "The integration of smart headlight technologies in the automotive sector is a great example of how an active spot cooling solution using a HiTemp ET Series can solve complex thermal problems and keep sensitive electronics cool."

The HiTemp ET Series is designed to operate in temperatures between 80 and 150°C. This product series is available in a large breadth of models, (53) to accommodate the wide number of applications we are experiencing with various heat-pumping requirements, geometric form factors, and input power available to cover the wide range of DLP design requirements.

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