|Keys to Xenon’s Photonic Sintering Systems|
Speed, Low Temperature Curing and Flexibility are Keys to Xenon’s Photonic Sintering Systems
By David Savastano
The manufacturing of printed electronics (PE) systems requires the ability to process at high speeds while not damaging the substrate itself. Through the use of inkjet and screen printing, silver, gold and most recently, copper nanoparticle inks are now being used in PE applications, and it is now possible to print at room temperature on flexible substrates such as printed circuit boards.
Because some functionally conductive inks and coatings now contain nanoparticles, low-cost substrates such as paper, PET and polyethylene films can now be used, but high temperatures above 160°C can not be utilized.
There are a variety of approaches that can used to manufacture PE systems. One such process is Photonic Sintering, which is done without requiring high temperatures that can damage flexible substrates.
Xenon Corporation is ideally positioned to meet the needs of printed electronics manufacturers. For 46 years, Xenon has been developing flash lamps and pulsed UV systems for industries where very high energy broad band large area pulsed light has distinct advantages over alternate sources like mercury lamps and lasers, including markets such as semiconductors, optical disks, solar simulators and sterilization applications.
Dr. Saad Ahmed, engineering manager for Xenon Corporation, noted that Xenon Corporation’s capabilities make printed electronics a logical fit.
“Our entry into the PE domain happened approximately two years ago when we were seeing increased requests for sintering conductive and semi-conductive inks,” Dr. Ahmed said. “The success of these early studies has indicated that there is sufficient motivation for moving into the PE domain. To this end we have a very strong development program that has delivered products for this specific market. With regard to PE, development of processes for solar Industry seems most interesting.”
Xenon Corporation’s technology is centered on Photonic Sintering. High energy peak pulses, delivered in milliseconds, quickly heat only the inks and not the substrates. The high energy removes the solvent, leaving only the metal flakes, which are sintered or annealed, while the substrate is unaffected. Dr. Ahmed pointed to three key advantages compared to other production processes.
“The key advantages of Photonic Sintering are speed, low temperature and simple footprint,” Dr. Ahmed said. “When compared with current traditional solution such as low bake ovens which take tens of minutes, Photonic Sintering can achieve similar results in micro seconds. In terms of lower temperature, using high energy pulses that have a very short duration leads to less damage to the substrate. As to its footprint, when compared to lasers, the deployment of our Photonic Sintering system is simple and allows retrofit to an existing system.”
Because printed electronics is still a relatively new field, Xenon Corporation is developing a range of solutions to help manufacturers meet their needs, using its depth of experience to solve the most challenging applications. These solutions include the Sinteron 500 benchtop system and Sinteron 2000 rack-mounted system.
“PE is still technologically in its infancy,” Dr. Ahmed said. “To facilitate deployment, we have created a suite of a products for the R&D environment to help manufacturers, ink developers and process integrators deploy and evaluate Photonic Sintering solutions. Products like the Sinteron 500, the Sinteron 2000 and LS847 Linear Stage are examples of these products.
“Feedback from these are helping us develop the production environment,” Dr. Ahmed added. “A production system is currently in the design and evaluation phase at Xenon. The key challenge that will need to be overcome is the development of a generic solution for a variety of inks that can easily adaptable and able to work at high process speeds. The faster the process speed, the more Photonic energy is required and this means more electrical energy is required. This is a major challenge.”
All in all, Xenon Corporation believes that Photonic Sintering will become a key component in the production of printed electronic systems.
“Based on the interest that we have seen so far, it is clear that the printed electronics industry demands a Photonic Sintering solution as soon as possible,” Dr. Ahmed concluded. “The demand is very high and the potential far reaching.”
BUY ONLINE 24 HOURS NOW