New coating technology boosts thermal designs

February 18, 2019 //By Nick Flaherty
New coating technology boosts thermal designs
A thin film waterproof coating developed by P2i in the UK can be used to improve the battery capacity and thermal management of the next generation of smartphones.

The ‘Dunkable’ technology applies a thin film polymer protection to motherboards and connectors using a pulsed plasma deposition process to waterproof a motherboard, but also opens up new design approaches. Sealing a smartphone restricts the thermal management, and eliminating seals can make a phone thinner or give more space for a larger battery. Both are issues for next generation 5G phones and bendable or clamshell designs.

"That’s one of the key things we see that we fundamentally change," says Ady MOore, CEo of P2i in Oxford. "We can manage water through the device and away. The heat dissipation we can help with as well as the additional battery life. We are seeing material changes in the heat that can be dissipated from the board and this is an area we are actively working on. We can make a significant difference by not having the device sealed so the heat can get out of the device."

The key difference with the other conformal coatings is the thickness, says Moore, as the film is 0.5μm to 2μm, making it manufacturable. “With foldable and clamshell phones we see more design freedom to use a coating rather than mechanical sealing," he said. "Foldable phones are much more difficult to mechanically seal and we are working with a number of companies in this area to help them.

The system uses a vacuum pulsating plasma process and there are around 170 patents on the technology.

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