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California Startup Says It Has Answer to High-Density, Ultra-Thin Designs
SAN FRANCISCO – “Innovation starts at the bottom,” a San Francisco startup says, underpinning its belief printed circuit boards will drive the next big leap in innovation.

Thintronics, the new firm founded last year by chemist Dr. Stefan Pastine, wants to help companies make better products through “reconceptualizing PCB design.”

The materials company has ideas for lower layer count designs for devices that must be small or lightweight or both, such as mobile, IoT, wearables and autonomous systems for self-driving cars and LiDAR or drones.

Its hypothesis is companies capable of using the PCB to drive end-product innovation are few and far between, but superior materials will help design engineers shed design rule constraints, while manufacturers benefit from shorter processing cycle times.

Its solution? A novel thin, low dielectric constant, skew-free substrate. In this case, how thin is “thin?” The company defines it as a 1.0-mil thick dielectric for standard products and 0.5 mils for “ultra” thin.

According to Thintronics, the novel material can enable product designers to cut board thickness and layer counts in half without a loss in interconnect density, or reduce PCB thickness by 35% with no layer count penalty, while doubling interconnect density.

The company’s claims are eye-opening: a 75% reduction in lamination cycle times and a 60% reduction in post-processing times, the latter because the Thintronics material cuts desmear times and requires no plasma. The dielectric constant range is 3.0-3.1, and the impedance tolerance is 5%. Moreover, Thintronics touts the “unlimited” prepreg shelf life. The dielectric spacing is 1 mil or 0.5 mils, and the material is CAF-resistant.

“Thintronics was created not by tweaking existing PCB materials, but by inventing new materials, starting from the molecular level. Our bottom-up molecular design approach creates products that, at their molecular core, are vastly different than any material in the world, much less the dielectrics used in the PCB market today,” the firm explains on its website.

Pastine comes to the PCB industry by way of Connora, a designer of thermoset plastics and composites that have the added feature of low-energy recyclability. Connora, which Pastine cofounded in 2011, was acquired by Aditya Birla Chemicals in 2019, freeing up Pastine to embark on his current pursuit.

As of November, longtime materials executive Tarun Amla has joined as president and chief operating officer. Amla was previously CTO at ITEQ and has held top technology jobs at Shengyi and Isola as well.

“We share the same view that it is sad that the USA has let its grip on dielectric technology slip away,” Pastine said in a LinkedIn post announcing Amla’s arrival. “We both expect to reverse the trend vis-à-vis the coupling of advanced simulation with Thintronics’ bottom-up, molecular-level design approach to inventing new dielectric materials.” (MB)