SBIR Phase II: A New Production Method for Ta Fibers for Use in Electrolytic Capacitors with Improved Performance and Packaging Options
This Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II project is intended to develop a new process for manufacturing tantalum (Ta) metal fibers for use in producing tantalum capacitors, and advance this process to the stage of commercialization. This technology, which has been demonstrated in Phase I, could lead to capacitor products having higher performance and greater volumetric efficiency than any currently available. The use of fibers in place of metal powder allows the production of thin anode bodies leading to improved packing options and component performance. The innovation underlying the technology is bundle drawing of Ta filaments in a copper matrix. A composite consisting of Ta filaments in a copper matrix is drawn is a series of reduction steps until the filaments are less than about 10 microns in diameter. The drawn wire is rolled to produce ribbon-type filaments that are 1 micron or less in thickness. The copper composite matrix is chemically dissolved without attacking the Ta to produce metallic Ta high surface area, ribbon-fibers. The fibers are
formed into thin mats, which are sintered to produce porous metal strips from which high surface area capacitor anodes are made. A significant aspect of this approach is that fiber morphology can be varied over a wide of fiber thicknesses unlike powder. This allows the morphology of the fibers to be optimized for the particular voltage rating and use requirements in order to maximize the performance of the capacitor. Commercially, nearly all medical, automotive, military and many consumer electronic devices utilize Ta electrolytic capacitors due to their outstanding performance, reliability and volumetric efficiency. Solid electrolytic capacitors are currently made from Ta metal powder. Several million pounds per year of Ta powder are consumed in manufacturing Ta capacitors for these applications. The trend in electronics is toward high powder components and increased miniaturization. Combined with the need to lower materials and manufacturing costs, these considerations have created an opportunity for new method of producing solid electrolytic capacitors. Fiber metal technology has the potential to both lower manufacturing costs, improve capacitor performance, and improve packaging options, which could enable the development of new product that are either currently very difficult or very expensive to make using current technology base on metal powder.
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