Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center Develops Revolutionary Nanotechnology Copper Solder

      Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center Develops Revolutionary
                         Nanotechnology Copper Solder

PR Newswire

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 24, 2012

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Scientists in the Advanced
Materials and Nanosystems directorate at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems
Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto have developed a revolutionary
nanotechnology copper-based electrical interconnect material, or solder, that
can be processed around 200 °C. Once fully optimized, the CuantumFuse™ solder
material is expected to produce joints with up to 10 times the electrical and
thermal conductivity compared to tin-based materials currently in use.
Applications in military and commercial systems are currently under
consideration.

"We are enormously excited about our CuantumFuse™ breakthrough, and are very
pleased with the progress we're making to bring it to full maturity," said Dr.
Kenneth Washington, vice president of the ATC. "We pride ourselves on
providing innovations like CuantumFuse™ for space and defense applications,
but in this case we are excited about the enormous potential of CuantumFuse™
in defense and commercial manufacturing applications."

In the past, nearly all solders contained lead, but there is now an urgent
need for lead-free solder because of a worldwide effort to phase out hazardous
materials in electronics. The European Union implemented lead-free solder in
2006. The State of California did so on January 1, 2007, followed soon
thereafter by New Jersey and New York City.

The principal lead-free replacement – a combination of tin, silver and copper
(Sn/Ag/Cu) – has proven acceptable to the consumer electronics industry that
deals mostly with short product life cycles and relatively benign operating
environments. However, multiple issues have arisen: high processing
temperatures drive higher cost, the high tin content can lead to tin whiskers
that can cause short circuits, and fractures are common in challenging
environments, making it difficult to quantify reliability. These reliability
concerns are particularly acute in systems for the military, aerospace,
medical, oil and gas, and automotive industries. In such applications, long
service life and robustness of components are critical, where vibration,
shock, thermal cycling, humidity, and extreme temperature use can be common.

"To address these concerns, we realized a fundamentally new approach was
needed to solve the lead-free solder challenge," said Dr. Alfred Zinn,
materials scientist at the ATC and inventor of CuantumFuse™ solder. "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.
Given this nanoscale phenomenon, we've produced a solder paste based on pure
copper."

A number of requirements were addressed in the development of the CuantumFuse™
solder paste including, but not limited to: 1) sufficiently small nanoparticle
size, 2) a reasonable size distribution, 3) reaction scalability, 4) low cost
synthesis, 5) oxidation and growth resistance at ambient conditions, and 6)
robust particle fusion when subjected to elevated temperature. Copper was
chosen because it is already used throughout the electronics industry as a
trace, interconnect, and pad material, minimizing compatibility issues. It is
cheap (1/4^th the cost of tin; 1/100^th the cost of silver, and 1/10,000^th
that of gold), abundant, and has 10 times the electrical and thermal
conductivity compared to commercial tin-based solder.

The ATC has demonstrated CuantumFuse™ with the assembly of a small test camera
board. "These accomplishments are extremely exciting and promising, but we
still have to solve a number of technical challenges before CuantumFuse™ will
be ready for routine use in military and commercial applications," said Mike
Beck, director of the Advanced Materials and Nanosystems group at the ATC.
"Solving these challenges, such as improving bond strength, is the focus on
the group's ongoing research and development."

The ATC is the research and development organization of Lockheed Martin Space
Systems Company (LMSSC) and is engaged in the research, development, and
transition of technologies in phenomenology & sensors, optics &
electro-optics, laser radar, RF & photonics, guidance & navigation, space
science & instrumentation, advanced materials & nanosystems, thermal sciences
& cryogenics, and modeling, simulation & information science.

LMSSC, a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs and
develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of
advanced-technology systems for national security and military, civil
government and commercial customers. Chief products include human space flight
systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and
communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and
interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; ballistic missiles; missile defense
systems; and nanotechnology research and development.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is a global
securityand aerospacecompany that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and
is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture,
integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and
services. The corporation's net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

Media Contact: Buddy Nelson, (510) 797-0349; e-mail, buddy.nelson@lmco.com

SOURCE Lockheed Martin

Website: http://www.lockheedmartin.com
 
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