Microwave Journal

APEI builds first multiphysics simulation app with COMSOL's Application Builder


November 21, 2014

Last month marked the release of the revolutionary Application Builder, now available with COMSOL Multiphysics® software version 5.0. The Application Builder, which allows COMSOL® software users to build an intuitive interface to run any COMSOL model, has been very well received by the engineering community. COMSOL Multiphysics users are already building applications and exploring the benefits of sharing their models with colleagues and customers worldwide.

Application Builder Expands Access to Simulation

One such company is Arkansas Power Electronics Intl. (APEI), a manufacturer of high power density and high performance power electronics products. APEI has found that the Application Builder can provide enormous benefits throughout the organization.

“I’m building applications to help us expedite our design processes,” says Brice McPherson, senior staff engineer at APEI. “Our engineers often spend time running analyses for the sales or manufacturing departments to find model results based on diverse conditions and requirements. The Application Builder will be hugely important for accelerating our work in this respect; any colleague outside of the engineering team will now be able to confidently run these studies by themselves, with no learning curve.”

The first application built by APEI looks at fusing current and ampacity of wire bonds – very small wires used to interconnect semiconductor devices with their packages.

“Designing a new wire bonding scheme for a power semiconductor usually requires a simulation specialist, who needs to spend time setting up the model and analyzing the temperature increase under a variety of conditions,” says McPherson. “We decided to use this common design request to take a first look at the Application Builder and to aid our colleagues working in manufacturing.

“When dealing with power, we have to be mindful of how much current we can safely transfer through the wires. This is heavily dependent on the geometry of the wire and the loop. One function of the app we created uses a parametric sweep to show how the number of wires affects the peak wire temperature at a set current. Previously, we had to look these values up using tables that we generated from many sweeps in COMSOL Multiphysics,” McPherson continues.

“Now we can have a clean, simple application to get that data without requiring an engineer, and the results are more accurate than what we would have achieved using the tables, since the information provided in the app is generated on a case-by-case basis.”


Figure: Bond wires used as interconnects in semiconductor devices must be properly sized and arranged to minimize heating. A tab in the application helps the user select the appropriate wire diameter, loop geometry and number of wires to find the maximum current the bonds can carry without overheating.

The team at APEI envisions using the Application Builder for countless other projects in the months to come, including applications to automate and streamline the calculation of wire bond inductance, package thermal performance, inductor and transformer design and layout analysis, just to name a few.

“The Application Builder surpassed my expectations,” McPherson concludes. “It’s very easy to use – our first application was running smoothly in minutes. The Form Editor is powerful and accessible, as it uses the same structure, format, and interaction as the COMSOL environment. If you can build a COMSOL model, it takes little effort to build an application, and the benefits will be felt by many APEI employees.”

For more information, visit www.comsol.com.