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Smart things come in small packages

As technology advances and electronics systems and subsystems shrink while being packed with more high-density chip-level components, connectors must also get smaller and smaller.

This miniaturization plays well with the properties of certain Materion specialty alloys. Few, if any, metals can match the combination of yield strength, conductivity, fatigue strength, stress relaxation resistance and other performance properties that Materion’s copper beryllium and non-beryllium-containing strip products offer.

Connector manufacturer Omnetics Connector Corporation last year introduced its miniature polarized nano connector line, the PZN Series, in response to customer demand for higher pin counts in ever-smaller yet still rugged packages. Those requirements dictated that the connector flex pin contacts be made from Materion’s Alloy 190, plated with nickel and gold.

The design of the PZN line increases contact counts to 24 from the current range of 4 to 12 positions, with contact spacing set at 0.0025 of an inch. These ultra-miniature connectors feature pin-and-socket designs to provide uninterrupted electrical connections for applications exposed to high shock, temperature and vibration environments. Such applications include military weapon systems, medical monitoring devices and down-hole oil and gas electronic measurement technology.

Demand for more pins in less space is also coming from manufacturers of backplane interconnects, the devices that the printed circuit boards plug into, which are at the core of every broadband data center. An ultra-high density backplane package may have 80 contacts per linear inch.

Data center backplane connectors must operate continuously at very high speed and temperature without signal degradation. Materion Brush Performance Alloys recently achieved a process breakthrough that made it possible to combine the best attributes of two separate copper beryllium alloys to create a new alloy especially for board-to-board connectors. Alloy 390® combines high strength with high conductivity and also offers excellent fatigue strength and stress relaxation resistance at elevated temperatures to provide better utility and extended product life in this application.