Scientists at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto, California have developed CuantumFuse, a nanotechnology copper-based electrical interconnect material for applications in aerospace, military and commercial systems.
According to the company, the creation of the new solder material is a result of an ongoing effort to phase out hazardous materials, including traditionally-used lead solders, in electronics. The most popular lead-free, combined-metal replacement has been successful in the consumer electronics industry but is not reliable for the long service life requirements of the military, aerospace, medical and automotive industries. According to Alfred Zinn, materials scientist at the ATC, the team realized a new approach was needed “to solve the lead-free solder challenge.” He adds that “rather than finding another multi-component alloy, our team devised a solution based on the well-known melting point depression of materials in nanoparticle form.” According to the company, CuantumFuse can be processed around 200°C and is “expected to produce joints with up to 10 times the electrical and thermal conductivity compared to tin-based materials currently in use.”
The scientists have successfully demonstrated CuantumFuse with the assembly of a small test camera board but still plan to solve a number of technical challenges, including improving bond strength, before releasing the solder for military and commercial applications.