IPC Midwest speaker details many benefits of nanomaterials

In a rapid-fire presentation before a standing room only crowd, nanotechnology expert Alan Rae kicked off IPC Midwest by describing multitude of ways in which nanomaterials may impact different segments of the electronics industry.

Nanomaterials have been around since the 1970s, with many commercial applications over the past several years. Their real impact has not yet been felt in electronics, but that’s about to change, he predicted.

He then went through a litany of areas, saying that nanotechnologies would have an impact in solar, chemicals, semiconductors and many other fields within electronics. Product categories from solders to sensors will see significant benefits.

“Sensors are a dark horse area” said Rae, CEO of the NanoMaterials Innovation Center. “A lot of research is being funded by the Dept. of Defense and the National Health Institute. In medicine, sensing gases can permit diagnoses of people by their breath. These research programs are also leading to techniques that make it possible to put sensors and logic on the same chip.”

Ideas for improvements come from many areas. Developers of high reliability stencil coatings copied concepts from nature. Lotus leaves repel water using a combination of fine hair-like structures and wax.

“They copied that idea and made a hydrophobic material to coat the stencils. The coating improved definition, especially with fine line stencils,” Rae said.

Rae also noted that conformal coatings have helped improve the reliability of circuit boards used in helicopters while also shortening time to repair these boards. Many more changes will come soon.

“Disruptive manufacturing processes and materials will start hitting the markets. Things are rapidly moving out of the labs,” Rae said. “For example, nano solders are getting a lot of attention. Intel has some interesting patents in this area.”


  1. Posted August 23, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Any more details on nano solders? What are “disruptive manufacturing processes and materials”?

    • Posted August 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      There are several companies working on nano sized solders or nano coated solders with the aim of improving printability and lowering sinter / melting temperatures.

      Disruptive manufacturing processes use nanomaterials in new techniques to form circuits and can contribute to fast and inexpensive printed electronics processes e.g. Novacentrix light cured copper inks or CHN’s electrophoretic / imprinted nanotube circuits.

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