Research Papers

Electroplated Connections Between Carbon Fiber and Nickel

[+] Author and Article Information
Christopher Bilger, Hugh A. Bruck, Abhijit Dasgupta

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 20902

Contributed by the Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ELECTRONIC PACKAGING. Manuscript received February 26, 2016; final manuscript received January 3, 2017; published online January 27, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Toru Ikeda.

J. Electron. Packag 139(1), 011009 (Jan 27, 2017) (9 pages) Paper No: EP-16-1045; doi: 10.1115/1.4035703 History: Received February 26, 2016; Revised January 03, 2017

Carbon has become an attractive material for electronic packaging applications, such as interconnects, because of its low density and reasonable electrical conductivity. One challenge in these applications is overcoming the inherent chemical incompatibility between carbon and metals that limits adhesion. Recently, we explored a new technique for electroplating carbon fibers with nickel. Electroplated carbon fiber tows were soldered to nickel metal tabs using SAC 305 (Sn3Ag0.5Cu). The electroplated nickel was found to be free of microvoids with (Ni,Cu)3Sn4 forming as intermetallic compounds (IMCs) in an annular region presumed to be Ni3Sn4 at the SAC 305-Ni interface. Mechanical characterization of the carbon fiber–nickel interface revealed bond strengths up to 434 N, which is similar to a 22 gauge high strength copper clad steel. Electrical resistances were found to be as low as 1.1 Ω for a 38.1 mm long connection. Carbon–metal connections prepared using silver epoxy were found to have 80% lower load bearing capacity and 10–20% higher electrical resistance. Battery discharge tests indicated that the carbon connections reduced performance by only 4% compared to conventional copper. The performance drop increased to 7% when the discharge time was increased by 50%, indicating some thermal dependence. The electroplating technique is a fairly simple and inexpensive means of enhancing the wettability of carbon fiber to create scalable carbon-based conductors for low current systems.

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Fig. 1

Prepared 38.1 mm braided carbon fiber sleeve

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Fig. 2

Watts nickel plating setup for braided carbon fiber

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Fig. 3

Force measurement setup before (left) and after (center) failure, where fiber breakage is evident while the bonded ends of the fibers remain attached to the nickel tab

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Fig. 4

Force–displacement curves for electroplated braided carbon fiber sleeve soldered onto nickel tabs

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Fig. 5

(Left) Electroplated carbon fibers pulled out of the solder where EDS was taken from residue denoted by spectrum 2 and identified as solder, indicating wetting and shear failure of the solder at the interface. (Right) SEM micrographs of fibers after loading indicating failure due to transverse and axial splitting, and not interfacial failure.

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Fig. 6

Backscatter SEM image of plated carbon fiber (left) with EDS elemental composition image showing Sn (green) and Ni (red) (right)

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Fig. 7

Backscatter SEM image of electroplated carbon fiber encased in SAC305 matrix

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Fig. 8

Backscatter SEM image of interface between nickel tab and SAC305 (left) with EDS elemental composition composite image (right)

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Fig. 9

Backscattered SEM image of globular formations on the end of a nickel plated carbon fiber tow specimen

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Fig. 10

Current–voltage (I–V) comparison of plated and unplated braided carbon fiber sleeves

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Fig. 11

Light bulb voltage versus time of discharge circuits comparing a copper wire connector with a carbon fiber connector

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Fig. 12

Thermal image of the discharge circuits indicating the locations of the hot spots on the connectors used to assess the relative temperatures

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Fig. 13

Battery charging profiles for copper and carbon connections

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Fig. 14

Thermal images comparing the temperatures of the connectors in cell charging circuits



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