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Introducing Graphene into advanced printed circuit boards

Introducing Graphene into advanced printed circuit boards

 

A unique consortium has been formed between industry-leading companies and academic institutes to introduce Graphene into advanced printed circuit boards.

Graphene is a phenomenal 2D material made out of carbon hexagons. Despite its monoatomic thickness, it is extremely strong and has better electrical conductivity than that of metals. This attractive material can be deposited on copper, which is the metal of choice for PCBs, by chemical vapor deposition using methane as a precursor. Graphene/Cu stacks can then be integrated into standard PCB processing to form advanced circuits. Due to its 2D structure and high charge mobility, Graphene improves the circuit performance at high frequency, which is relevant for both RF systems - such as airborne and automotive radars, as well as for high-speed digital circuits used for 5G communication. Another exceptional property of Graphene is its thermal conductivity, which is 5 times higher than that of copper. This property enables significant improvements in heat dissipation, which is critical for an analog high-power devices such as amplifiers and transmitters. Graphene can be included in circuits not only as a layer – Graphene platelets can be mixed into hole-filling epoxy pastes thus improving the heat conduction of non-plated vias. A fine balance is needed in this case between Graphene and epoxy since a high percentage of the Graphene in the mix results in an electrically-conductive paste.

The challenge in working with Graphene is finding a way to include the material on Cu layers without harming its chemical nature by standard processing. As an example, Graphene is not resistant to strong oxidizing agents, such as those critical for surface preparation before drill-hole coating. Exposed Graphene can contaminate electrodeposition baths with carbon or lose its desired properties due to mechanical damage from handling.
So far we have managed to drill, press, and plate holes in Graphene-including circuits, which makes the next phase of Graphene patterning look promising. This work is done in close collaboration with Prof. Doron Naveh (Bar Ilan University), Prof. Oren Regev, and Prof. Gennady Ziskind (both from Ben-Gurion University).

PCB Technologies All-in-One approach has proved essential in this process providing decades of experience in using various raw materials and a wide array of engineering capabilities.

PCB Technologies CEO discusses the Coronavirus crisis

PCB Technologies CEO discusses the Coronavirus crisis

 

 

How do you carry out your role as CEO in these days?

My major role is to give people the confidence that, in spite of the extreme conditions we have all been forced to deal with, we can execute our plans and keep on our people’s health and jobs. I share my time between the PCB Technologies office and my home office, while keeping a busy business calendar — Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! Yet, I maintain social distancing on one hand and stay present with the people who come to the plant every day on the other.

 

Was the company prepared for this crisis?

Nobody was able to be prepared for such an impact on our day-to-day business and private lives. The challenge was how quickly we could react and make adjustments to our best practices and level of implementation. I am proud to say that the reaction by the people of PCB in all levels was outstanding; they showed their discipline and dedication to adopt the new guidelines of work.

 

              “…Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!”

 

What has changed with regard to company operations?

A lot has changed. We have built an ad hoc management team with the name “Winning the Corona A Team” to deal with everything related to social distancing, protection of employees, and avoiding surface contamination.

We have created a long-distance home office solution for almost 200 people, and built in organic shifts for the production floor, while opening new shifts for employees with children at home. The team has searched for every possible treatment of contamination, through human breathing or touch, and have found a creative solution to keep the operation running, but without compromising people’s safety.

 

 



Will jobs be preserved?

Yes. This was one of our priorities. It isn’t enough just to focus on people’s safety, but let them lose their jobs or income. We organize in a way that enables us to keep the vast majority of the jobs, and gives flexibility to people who cannot come to work due to new conditions.

Luckily, we are dealing mainly with medical and military equipment, so our deal flow looks positive for the time being, and we are able to deliver most of our commitments on time.

 

Are there any new company actions directly linked to the pandemic?

Definitely. We measure the body temperature of all employees in the plant at the check-in point every day, and give them all the necessary equipment to protect themselves, including masks, gloves and special uniforms, if needed. Our catering and coffee area service was adjusted to new hygienic requirements by adding more people and tools to avoid surface contamination.

 

“Luckily, we are dealing mainly with medical and military equipment, so our deal flow looks positive…”

 

 

What is your leadership credo?

A crisis is also an opportunity, and in order to get that opportunity, you need the people to be with you. So, people first! This includes sharing your thoughts, transparency about decisions, and personal care.

This crisis is also a big opportunity for our all-in-one strategy, where we offer our customers all they need, from design of the PCB, all the way to assembly of PCBA and box building.

Flexibility and agility is also part of the leadership message. We can’t use the exact same guidelines we used yesterday for tomorrow, and we must be open to adjustments. Some of them will not be comfortable or popular at the beginning, but will pay off down the road.

 

Last, but not least, believe in ourselves, stay positive, and look for how we can make fresh lemonade from the lemon.