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Schott acquires Primoceler, laser glass-bonding specialist

11 Jul 2018

Finnish company's unique laser-based bonding technique promises better packaging for MEMs to medical devices.

Schott, the specialty glass and glass-ceramics giant, owned by the Carl Zeiss Foundation, has entered into an agreement to acquire Primoceler Oy, a Finnish pioneer in glass micro bonding, based in Tampere.

Primoceler’s hermetic packaging technology is said to create new possibilities for protection of sensitive electronics in medical implants, MEMS devices and other reliability-critical applications. With this acquisition, Schott says it is “strategically enhancing its longstanding core competence in the field of hermetic packaging”.

The transaction is expected to be completed before the end of 2018, subject to required approvals. Financial details were not revealed but the acquired company will in future trade under the name Schott Primoceler Oy as part of Schott’s Electronic Packaging division.

Schott’s Electronic Packaging division offers a complete range of hermetic packaging technologies to protect sensitive electronics in automotive, aerospace, medical, and energy applications. Hermetic packaging refers to the sealing of electrical contacts with glass or ceramics.

The challenge in making such insulators, which prevent the intrusion of moisture and other contaminants, lies in achieving a perfect bond between the electrical metal conductors and glass, which Schott has achieved over the course of many decades.

Primoceler benefits

Primoceler has developed a “glass-only” micro bonding method based on laser technology that can be completed without any heat or added materials.

This innovative bonding process allows for the manufacture of vacuum-tight, ultra-miniature electronic or optical devices with superior reliability. The company states, “Even electronics with extreme heat sensitivities can be safely encapsulated. Glass micro bonding enables entirely new packaging concepts for devices that demand high reliability including medical implants, aerospace, automotive, optical devices, and micro-electro-mechanical systems, such as for the Internet of Things.”

Ville Hevonkorpi, CEO of Primoceler, commented, “This new partnership with such a global leader positions us excellently to serve our customers around the world and scale up our production. We have enjoyed a business relationship with Schott for years and are happy to develop this further.”

Peter Kniprath, Head of Schott’s Electronic Packaging business unit, said, “Electronics are entering more and more areas of daily life. Consequently, demands for safety and durability have increased. Schott Primoceler will focus on tackling these challenges and working with our customers towards completely new applications.”

How it works

Primoceler’s hermetic packaging portfolio is based on its laser-based glass micro bonding technology. This process enables the manufacture of vacuum-tight, ultra-miniature electronic and optical devices with high reliability. This bonding method can be completed without any heat or added materials, allowing device packaging for sensitive electronics made with only transparent materials, such as glass.

The technique is also said to offer “excellent biocompatibility” with new glass types; the technology creates new possibilities for wafer level chip scale packaging for a range of applications, including medical implants, MEMS devices, and other reliability-critical electronic and optical devices.

By directly laser bonding glass-to-glass or glass-to-silicon, devices can be manufactured without a gap between the layers, leading to ever-smaller wafer and chip scale devices and medical implants. In addition, the process allows for creation of specified conditions inside the encapsulation cavity, including integration of certain gases or even a complete vacuum.

This approach to glass micro bonding does not require any heat and can be done at room temperature, creating the possibility for electronics with extreme heat sensitivities to be safely encapsulated. The bonding process also does not require any additive materials, which means less risk for material failure or outgassing, and therefore enhanced reliability of the packaged components.

For the past 40 years, titanium has been the packaging material of choice for medical implants. However, the use of glass wafers has increased rapidly in recent times. The core reasons are the superior properties glass offers as a packaging material, including its biocompatibility. Its transparency to radio frequencies opens up new possibilities for active and passive medical implants, since glass packages could enable efficient recharging, data transfer, and reprogramming of implants. Furthermore, transparency to visible light makes full-glass micro packages suitable for a wide range of optical applications.

Biocompatible full-glass micro packages offer new possibilities for the next generation of medical implants, such as retinal implants and neuro stimulators, blood pressure sensors, and devices for cardiac rhythm management, including cardiac resynchronization therapy and implantable cardioverter defibrillator devices.

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