The Characterization and Application of Very Fine Copper Powders Produced in Aqueous Media

Sutherland, Bruce R. ; Ramsden, Jim B. ; Bolton, Gerry L.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1990
Conductive metal powders are important building blocks for today's micro-electronic circuitry. Formulated into inks, they provide the interconnects needed to complete a complex integrated circuit and the means to enter the world of miniaturization. Traditionally, the inks have been based upon expensive metals such as silver, palladium, platinum and gold because of their excellent electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion and oxidation. The use of a copper based ink, as an alternative to precious metal inks, recently has received considerable attention. Instability in the prices and limited supply of certain precious metal systems have driven up production costs, making the development of a lower cost copper system more attractive to manufacturers. However, lower production costs are on1 y real ized if performance and reliability can be maintained. While the development has been driven by cost, copper does offer some significant performance advantages over noble metal systems: conductivity as good as silver and 4W better than gold; leach resistance better than silver and equal to gold; stability at high frequencies better than gold or silver; strong film bonding characteristics; and compatibility with most solders. These benefits, however, do not come without cost. The inherently reactive nature of pure copper, while providing unique performance properties, makes it difficult to process. Unl i ke precious metals which can be fired in air, copper would oxidize and so requires special furnaces and atmospheres. Despite these difficulties, the transition from precious metal thick film systems to copper is gaining momentum. Manufacturers of high density, high performance circuitry are exploring the performance advantages of copper over gold and silver and the manufacturers of consumer products are considering the potential cost savings of copper over silver-palladium. Sherritt has developed a fine copper powder for this industry. Through association with the ink manufacturers, it has been found that performance properties of the ink vary with the physical and chemical characteristics of the powder. Production Process The production of very fine copper powders at Sherritt is based upon the disproportionation of cuprous ions as outlined in Equation [1] (1).
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