Nanomaterials are transforming many fields, adding new capabilities to a number of existing products. Often, these improvements are made without the knowledge of customers, who benefit from the many advances in nanotechnology.
During the last decade, governments and venture capitalists around the globe have been investing in nanotechnology. The funding level underscores the lofty expectations for nanomaterials.
“The National Nanotechnology Initiative is the biggest technology investment the U.S. government has made since the moon shot,” said Alan Rae, CEO of the NanoMaterials Innovation Center.
From his inside view at this research facility on the Alfred University campus in New York, Rae sees a lot of development in many fields. Many will impact the electronics industry.
“The real question is not whether nanomaterials will impact the electronic assembly industry, but how it will impact the industry. Part of that is looking at when products will come out,” Rae said.
He will be discussing these impacts during the free opening session of IPC Midwest on Wednesday, Aug. 22 at 8:00 am. His session, Nanotechnology and Electronics Assembly, will set the stage for much of what’s coming in this rapidly-emerging field.
Another session, Assembly Coatings and Alternatives, will touch on some of the nanomaterials now being used. That technical session is Wednesday afternoon. Among other topics, panelists will reveal new coating materials that incorporate nanoparticle technology.
Though Rae will focus more on forthcoming advances, he’ll also describe nanomaterials that are already making an impact.
“Coatings for stencils are already on the market. They improve relative properties so you can get finer line definition,” Rae said. “Some surface finishes combine the benefits of organic solderability preservation and metallic surface finishes.”
Going forward, technical advances should help laminates and solder to continue improving their performance, helping manufacturers keep pace with the rapid advances of the semiconductor industry. Though the advances will be quite noticeable, the role of nanoparticles may not be visible.
“We will see additives in laminates that will control dielectric constant, thermal expansion and control the optical properties of solder masks,” Rae said. “Nanomaterials will also see use in interconnect materials like silver and solder. In most cases, people won’t even know there are nanomaterials in the products.”
Rae will also examine the role that nanomaterials will play in the broader electronics industry. Long term, there’s a possibility that materials other than silicon can be used to improve performance and/or cut costs. In the short term, nanotechnology is playing a role in some very high volume segments.
“A lot of sensors use nanomaterials, especially in the medical areas,” Rae said.
To register or for more information on IPC Midwest, visit www.IPCMidwestShow.org.