The primary reason LEDs are sold as a packaged product is to protect the fragile bare die from damage. Standardized packaging also makes it far easier for manufacturers to work with LEDs on production lines. However, there is another consideration: LEDs are only around 40% efficient, which means 60% of the power that goes into an LED will come out as heat. As with any electronic device, too much heat can cause serious damage so it needs removing as quickly as possible. This is where thermal management comes in. As LEDs increase in power while shrinking in size, thermal management becomes a critical aspect of LED packaging. The solid-state lighting (SSL) industry has long dealt with the thermal challenges of mid- and high-power LEDs, but the latest move to a chip-scale package (CSP) has introduced all new thermal design challenges.
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