Product Sector: Information and Communications Technology → Electronics → Polymers
A Voltage Switchable Dielectric (VSD) material is a polymer nano-composite that behaves like an insulator (dielectric) during normal circuit operation and becomes conductive when the voltage across the VSD material increases beyond a predefined threshold voltage. The VSD material becomes an insulator again after the voltage drops below the threshold voltage.
The protection of electronic devices from electrostatic discharge (ESD) events is the first application for this distinctive technology. There are two areas of concentration:
- VSD material integrated within the core of printed circuit boards (PCB) for board level protection
- VSD material integrated within the substrate for package level protection
ESD protection is a feature required by all electronic devices from high reliability military and industrial products to consumer electronics. By far, the largest markets for ESD protection are driven by the consumer electronics sector where products are more at risk of field failure from recurring ESD events delivered through consumers and end-users of electronic devices.
In-Board versus In-Package Protection
The ability to provide all circuit nets with access to embedded, blanket protection from an ESD event offers up an exciting solution to a growing problem. Board level integration facilitates the greatest initial impact of VSD? material utilization across the semiconductor sector, and represents the fastest time-to-market channel for our products.
Designers strive to increase the quantity of nets that are protected on a board, as well as the protection level of those nets, without having to employ expensive (and real-estate intensive) discrete ESD protection circuits. Because our VSD? materials are incorporated directly into the core of the PCB stack-up, comprehensive protection across the entire PCB is available. And because of its unique material properties, the combined level of protection and ultra-fast reaction time is far superior to that of other products commercially available today.
In-package protection is of interest for many applications ranging from complex microprocessors, ASICs, or GPUs (where higher levels of on-chip ESD protection is typical) to RF/MW devices where low capacitance options are typically required. VSD materials provide additional protection for high performance devices by being embedded within the substrate. They also offer low capacitance options to supplement high speed/frequency devices that lack adequate on-chip protection. With respect to complex high I/O devices, a focused area of interest is in assessing the trade-offs between on-chip ESD circuitry versus off-chip VSD protection in order to improve overall signal integrity response by eliminating circuitry on the semiconductor.
Mixed protection involving complementary in-board and in-package use will be observed as VSD materials migrate across electronic markets.