National Physical Laboratory

Electronics Interconnection

NPL's multidisciplinary team undertakes research in a number of disciplines across interconnect systems.
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Latest News

  • The NPL Product Verification team has recently completed a successful Nadcap Gap Analysis with Aeromet International Ltd.
  • NPL will be presenting recent work on alternatives to high temperature solders at Electronic Materials and Processes for Space workshop.
  • NPL exhibited at the recent ITMA show held in Milan, Italy, which was attended by over 120,000 people.

Technical Areas

  • Electronics are increasing being required to operate above 150ÂșC, in applications which include avionics, oil drilling and automotive. NPL is developing techniques for characterising interconnect systems at elevated temperatures.
  • NPL research is focused upon characterising nano-interconnects for electronic applications.
  • Improving manufacturability and lifetime prediction of plastic electronics systems.
  • NPL is at the forefront of activities in the UK to investigate technical and implementation challenges facing the industry changing from Sn/Pb solders to the lead-free alternatives.
  • NPL research is focused upon developing solderability testing of lead-free alloys in both air and inert (N2) atmospheres.

Electrical interconnects are an intrinsic part of any electronic system. The interconnect has to perform on a wide range of substrates and under wide range of environmental conditions, and survive induced stresses from thermal, mechanical, corrosive and electrical factors. In many instances the capability of the interconnect is a road block to realising the full performance of the functional circuit.

What we do

We investigate interconnect properties and develop metrological techniques to characterise performance, frequently in multiple domains. Our research is focused on the emerging technologies within printed electronics, harsh and high temperature electronics, wearable technology and electrochemical performance in coating barrier systems:

  • Developing combinatorial mechanical, thermal and electrical measurement techniques, and inventing measurement instruments where necessary
  • Developing measurement technology to characterise degradation by electrochemical corrosion in sub-micron aqueous films
  • Developing microstructural and materials understanding to describe the properties in complex interfacial structures
  • Developing metrology in smart textiles and printed electronics

Industry roadmaps and sustainability are driving technology into new material sets, whereas the PCB use to be plated copper and solder joints, all manner of substrates from paper to LCP, and interconnects from ink, adhesives and sintered nano-powders are being used. Operating conditions are becoming increasingly harsh, with higher temperatures, and corrosive gases. New innovations in smart textiles and labels call for metrology innovations. NPL is working with partners to provide the tools to move the industry forward.

Meet the team

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