Invention opens doors for electrical device manufacturers to develop cost-effective printed circuit boards for use in sensor devices as well as automotive, aerospace, defense, and energy applications
BERKELEY, CA, March 17, 2022 – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a compact, robust, and low-cost method for interconnecting printed circuit boards (PCBs) without requiring soldering or additional components. These narrow board-in-board connectors can handle higher voltages and mechanical stresses compared to currently available miniature connector technologies. Multiple boards can be connected into a variety of shapes, including 3D shapes. Potential uses are broad–ranging, from vital aviation electronics to thin sensor probes. This technology is now available for licensing.
This new PCB with board-in-board interconnectors:
- relies on established, low-cost PCB manufacturing techniques
- is inexpensive compared to pin connector alternatives
- does not require soldering
- is easily customizable into 3D shapes
- provides opportunities in high-stress applications or where the devices are subject to vibration, and
- can handle high voltages.
Conventional board-to-board connectors can be a significant cost of devices. They often require soldering, and the connection is often fragile in environments that present mechanical stress and vibrations. Press-fit connectors for high-stress environments do not require soldering but can be expensive.
This new method produces PCBs that are shaped in a narrow 5 mm format, similar to a pencil, with each end of the board containing respectively an array of angled slots, or a series of pins shaped like miniature jaws with barbed teeth that lock two PCBs together. The angled slots create a spring-loading mechanism that eliminates the need to solder PCBs and ensures robust connections that withstand vibration.
The user or engineer can connect these PCBs in a variety of shapes, including stacked vertically, run sequentially in a series, or connected at various angles to create 3D shapes.
“This new type of PCB interconnects opens up a world of design opportunities for electronics,” said Stijn Wielandt, a researcher in Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area. “The strong locking mechanism means simple assembly and less breakage in applications that produce mechanical stress or vibrations on circuit boards. The compact format also allows for use in 3D components.”
Because the contacts are spaced out along the length of the board, the connector can also handle higher voltages, which opens opportunities in the field of power electronics, for example in the domain of solar power, battery packs, and motor control.
For information on licensing this technology, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.