Electronic components exist in a wide range of environments including geothermal wells, solar cells, fuel cells, batteries, and vehicles. Beyond state-of-the-art electronic operational limits, each environment has inaccessible operational profiles with extreme temperatures, crippling mechanical stresses, or corrosive chemicals. In many cases, electronics with durable packaging for these environments are expensive or do not even exist, thereby limiting the deployability or lifetime of a technology. Researchers at NREL have developed robust packaging materials for electronic circuits. These robust sensing systems consist of electronic circuits protected by organic-inorganic nanocomposite packaging materials including nanomaterials embedded in high-temperature polymer networks. These composites can achieve temperature stability up to 400 °C (750 °F), mechanical durability that withstands 100s of g’s of transient acceleration, and chemical stability to harsh corrosive chemicals.
Commercially available dielectric packaging materials for electronic circuits typically have an upper temperature limit of 150 °C (300 °F) due to grain-boundary and ion-migration effects. While ceramics have desirable properties as a packaging material, including chemical inertness, extreme temperature tolerance, and compressive strength, they are brittle and lack tensile strength—properties that can render them useless in extreme environments. Moreover, while many inexpensive and chemically/thermally resistant polymers exist, they typically are not strong enough (particularly, in compression) to be useful in many applications. The optimization of chemical resistance, mechanical properties, and high-temperature stability is uniquely addressable by organic-inorganic nanocomposites consisting of inorganic nanomaterials embedded in organic polymer matrices.
Researchers at NREL have developed robust electronics packaging and sensing systems enabled by composite materials including high-temperature organic polymers with inorganic nanomaterial inclusions. These composite materials can achieve temperature stability up to 400 °C (750 °F), mechanical durability that withstands 100s of g’s of transient acceleration, and chemical stability to harsh acids, bases, or other corrosive chemicals. To ensure integration with other components within sensing systems, the surface chemistry of the nanomaterials can be modified for strong interfacial performance. Properly chosen nanomaterials can control the conductivity, photo-activity, strength, and chemical activity of the nanomaterials and resultant composite.
To learn more about Organic-Inorganic Nanocomposite Packaging for Electronic Circuits in Extreme Environments, please contact Erin Beaumont at:
Applications and Industries
- Electronics used in downhole geothermal and oil and gas drilling rigs,
- Insulation and dielectrics in fuel cells,
- High-temperature switches and insulation in power electronics,
- High-temperature switches and insulation in vehicles,
- High-temperature capacitors and switches in military vehicles,
- High-temperature switches and insulation in smart-grid components.
NREL’s Organic-Inorganic Nanocomposite Packaging for Electronic Circuits in Extreme Environments provides:
- Durable electronics packaging withstanding temperatures up to 400 °C (750 °F), 100s of g’s of transient acceleration, and harsh acids, bases, or other corrosive chemicals,
- Tunable conductivity, photo-activity, strength, and chemical activity of the nanomaterials and resultant composite,
- Potentially inexpensive materials and manufacturing costs, and
- Potentially straightforward integration into existing manufacturing techniques.