New solder extends the life of EV electronics

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A new form of solder made with the addition of microalloy elements and nanoparticles is expected to extend the life of electronics in electric vehicles.

From left to right: post-doctoral fellow Dr Teresa Bartida; Professor Ndy Ekere, Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology; Professor David Harvey and Dr Ming Zhang outside the engineering labs at LJMU 9 Image: LJMU)

This is the claim of researchers at John Moores University in Liverpool and its partners in Japan and Malaysia, whose initial results show that the weld is more durable with fewer cracks throughout the life of the products.

“Everyone advocates electric vehicles, but we still have a growing need for reliability for long-term survivability,” said David Harvey, professor emeritus of electronics engineering at LJMU. “The weakest link in these electronic devices is usually the solder interconnects. “

Lead has traditionally been the base metal for solder, but due to its toxicity, it is almost gradually being phased out by legislation, including Directive 2002/95 / EC on the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) and waste from EU electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Directive 2012/19 / EU.

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Its most common replacement – an alloy of tin, silver and copper – currently presents a great technical challenge in power electronics products due to the high operating temperature of electric vehicles.

“We are working on a lead-free solder that does not degrade at high temperatures by adding nanoparticles and microalloys,” said Dr. Ming Zhang, senior researcher at LJMU’s General Engineering Research Institute. “The new materials are expected to be more resistant to cracking throughout the life of products operating in a harsh environment, allowing longer lifetimes and having a significant impact on reducing the energy and materials required.” in the manufacture of the product. “

“Current alloys are prone to the formation of brittle intermetallic compounds which limit the reliability of solder joints. Our initial solution is to refine their microstructure by adding minor microalloy elements and nanoparticles, thereby improving weld properties and weld joint reliability.

The research is a collaboration with Gunma University (Japan) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Malaysia) and is one of four projects currently funded by British Council COP26 Trilateral Research Initiative 2021-22.

Entitled Go-GREEN: Next Generation Solder Materials for Power Electronics and Green Electric Transport, the British Council project aims to establish research collaborations in the field of climate change between the United Kingdom, Japan and ASEAN member countries.


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