First of all – I LOVE the name of this company. For that reason alone, I was intrigued enough to find out more about it, and where it fits in the 3D space. Remember, 3D integration is not only about stacking chips and devices vertically to fit more functionality into less space, it’s about utilizing what ever space is available in the z-direction – which can mean embedding passives and actives into substrate materials, or using conductive inks to get the most out of device real estate. In the case of 1st Lighten the Load, we’re talking about a disruptive technology using printed electronics fabrication to reportedly eliminate the need for 95% of passive components. With this fabrication technology, passive components no longer have a structure of their own, but rather are integrated into an electronics assembly ¼ the thickness of a PCB.
Dave Kelly, CTO of 1st Lighten the Load, Inc. responded to my query for more information on his company’s technology with the following main points:
- Passive parts are now printed ink, eliminating their body and allowing them to be incorporated into lower assembly layers.
- The metal traces are metal not conductive ink, with low resistance and as thin as 1 nanometer.
- Vias are printed and can be placed without restriction in lower layers.
- The assembly uses a solid core to control thermal expansion eliminating mechanical stress on integrated circuit die and spreading heat.
- The chips can use flip chip or other bonding attachment method to the assembly.
- The number of layers of stacked chips and layers is unlimited.
- The metalization can be fabricated with traces much less than 25µm wide and 25µm spaces.Although originally designed to manufacture ultra-high density capacitors, the first two markets being targeted for this technology are the capacitor industry and high-volume electonics fabrication. Ultra-high density capacitors will follow, with the automotive industry slated next, and ultimately universal personal electronic devices (UPED). A detailed paper about 1st Lighten the Load’s technology, licensing opportunities and future plans is available.
Licenses for the technology are now available, and Kelly reported that discussions are in the works with several companies and investors to set up a pilot manufacturing line. I’ll be sure to follow this one as it grows. F.v.T.