Several years ago, manufacturers set out to rid electronics of hazardous materials by removing lead from solder. Unfortunately, the tin-based, lead-free solder became prone to a detrimental phenomenon known as tin whiskers, microscopic metal growths on soldering points of a circuit board that often lead to short circuits.
Using his research at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif., where nanotechnology development efforts were under way, Dr. Alfred Zinn was able to help find a tin whiskers solution.
“It is amazing that we can now employ nanotechnology and break fundamental boundaries that we previously thought to be ‘physical constants,’” said Dr. Zinn.
During his research, he found that using CuantumFuse™, a printable nanocopper paste, could help achieve the desired processing temperature for electronic assembly.
Since solder is a low-cost commodity item and can only be replaced by a competitive product, Lockheed Martin created a synthesis process that allows for fast and affordable production of CuantumFuse™. Replacing tin-based solder with pure copper solder offers several benefits: much greater thermal and electrical conductivity, the elimination of the danger from whiskers and improved product performance by an order of magnitude once fully developed.
“CuantumFuse™ is a true revolution that offers high reliability and a lead-free solution for a wide variety of commercial and government applications,” said Dr. Ken Washington, the VP of Advanced Technology Center. “This innovative use of nanotechnology opens a breadth of opportunities in the automobile and medical industries, electronic cooling and others.”