National Physical Laboratory

Electronics Interconnection

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

  • A novel approach towards integrated electronics has the potential to exploit new opportunities in the textile market.
  • Improving manufacturability and lifetime prediction of plastic electronics systems.
  • NPL research is focused upon characterising nano-interconnects for electronic applications.
  • 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.

EI Videos

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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.

Measurement needs

Please tell us about any measurement needs you may have. Some examples of these might be:

  • Issues relating to product inspection
  • Issues relating to process control
  • Training requirements
  • Obtaining specialist calibration or testing support
  • Problem solving on measurement issues
  • Demonstrating or assessing measurement system or product performance

Your input will help us to develop our future work.

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Meet the team

Products & Services

  • NPL has three electron microscopes available for image analysis and elemental analysis.
  • Solderability testing can be performed on solder pads or component terminations.
  • Shear testing is an established destructive method for evaluating not only the degree of any crack propagation and damage to the solder joint, but also the general strength of the joint.