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EETE SEPT 2013

Miniature SiP for electric vehicles By Junko Yoshida in an effort to plot further miniaturization of system-inpackage solutions, Infineon Technologies, together with 40 research partners in Europe, announced the successful completion of a large-scale research project called ESiP (Efficient Silicon Multi-Chip System-in-Package integration). The advantages of System-in-Package (SiP) are well known, since SiP allows chip designers to integrate, in one package, different types of chips made by using different production techniques and structure widths. The goal for the ESiP project, however, was set to develop much more compact and reliable SiP solutions than those available today. The research partners, who described it as an entirely new class of SiP, hope to use the miniaturized SiPs for such applications as electric vehicles, industrial, medical equipment and communications technology. The ESiP research group claims they have developed basic technologies that enable the integration of various types of chips in the smallest volume SiP packages.”For example, customer-specific processors with the latest CMOS technologies, light-emitting diodes and DC-DC converters, MEMS and sensor components and passive components such as miniaturized capacitors and inductors,” they explained. It’s important to note that the research group investigated not only new production processes for compact SiP solutions, but also new materials for building SiPs. Their efforts led to a number of innovations ranging from the development of materials to manufacturing process and testing methodologies. While probing the feasibility and reliability of the new production processes, the group discovered that “test procedures commonly used today are no longer sufficient for future SiP solutions.” The research group also developed new test flows, probe stations, and probe adapters for 3D SiP. Working on what was billed as the largest research project in Europe for SiP, the group faced high expectations in efforts to improve the future of the European microelectronics industry. The group, under Infineon management, had 40 participating microelectronics and research entities from nine European countries. Funds came from public authorities in all nine countries and the ENIAC Joint Undertaking - a public-private partnership focusing on the development of nanoelectronics in Europe. Among nine nations, Germany -- where Infineon is based - was the largest contributor. Synthetic polymers lower the cost of alkaline fuel cells By Julien Happich By creating several variations of fuel cell membranes made of synthetic polymers, and studying them under similar conditions, a research team from the University of Park (Pennsylvania) was able to predict the most optimal structure in an active and stable fuel cell. The researchers believe the newly designed polymer membrane can decrease the cost of alkaline batteries and fuel cells by allowing the replacement of expensive platinum catalysts without sacrificing important aspects of performance. “We have tried to break this paradigm of trade-offs in materials (by improving) both the stability and the conductivity of this membrane at the same time, and that is what we were able to do with this unique polymeric materials design,” said Michael Hickner, associate professor of materials science and engineering. In solid-state alkaline fuel cells, anion exchange membranes conduct negative charges between the device’s cathode and anode - the negative and positive connections of the cell - to create useable electric power. Most fuel cells currently use membranes that require platinum-based catalysts that are effective but expensive. Hickner’s new polymer is a unique anion exchange membrane, a new type of fuel cell and battery membrane that allows the use of much more cost-efficient non- precious metal catalysts and does not compromise either durability or efficiency like previous anion exchange membranes. Based on their initial tests, the group predicted that the membranes with long 16-carbon structures in their chemical makeup would provide the best efficiency and durability, as measured respectively by conductivity and long-term stability. Chao-Yang Wang, William E. Diefenderfer Chair of Mechanical Engineering, and his team then tested each possibility in an operating fuel cell device. Yongjun Leng, a research associate in mechanical and nuclear engineering, measured the fuel cell’s output and lifetime for each material variation. Despite predictions, the membranes containing shorter 6-carbon structures proved to be much more durable and efficient after 60 hours of continuous operation. Because the successful membrane was so much more effective than the initial lab studies predicted, researchers are now interested in accounting for the interactions that the membranes experienced while inside the cell. “We have the fuel cell output — so we have the fuel cell efficiency, the fuel cell life time — but we don’t have the molecular scale information in the fuel cell,” Hickner said. “That’s the next step, trying to figure out how these polymers are working in the fuel cell on a detailed level.” 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe September 2013 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE SEPT 2013
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