Wireless Systems Design

Alloy Lures Handhelds With Conductivity

The birth of new devices and the desire for miniaturization are rapidly raising power requirements. At the same time, the industry must maintain mechanical performance characteristics while lowering thermal resistance. Brush Wellman, Inc. (www.brushwellman.com) hopes to end this struggle with its proprietary Alloy 390.

The company claims that it has broken through the performance barrier that forces materials users to select between strength and conductivity. Utilizing Lean Six Sigma methodology, Brush Wellman has made process breakthroughs that have enabled it to produce an alloy with high strength (nominal 140 ksi, 0.2% yield strength) and high conductivity (44% IACS minimum). In addition, Alloy 390 promises to provide superior stress relaxation resistance at elevated temperatures.

Supposedly, users of the new copper-nickel-beryllium alloy are already seeing benefits. In BiTS and production-socket applications, Alloy 390 is being used to make electrical-mechanical contact springs (land-grid-array contacts). Those contacts forge the interconnection between the active device and the printed-circuit board. Because today's faster integrated-circuit (IC) packages require less pitch between contacts, a need exists for new materials and performance.

The Brush Wellman alloy claims to be able to serve any application that is concerned with power management and/or harsh operating environments. Due to its enhanced electrical conductivity, the alloy is already gaining interest from manufacturers of handheld communication devices. It has caught their attention with its promises of increased battery life and reduced charging times.

Other potential applications for Alloy 390 include automotive terminals, switches, and relays; power connectors; SIM card contacts; and appliance switches, relays, sensors, and controls. The mill-hardened alloy is available in strip form ranging from 0.002 to 0.010 in. thick.

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