News Article

New technology brings increased reliability, reduced cost to electronic devices and components
Date: Mar 02, 2010
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Featured firm in this article: Omega Micro Technologies Inc of West Lafayette, IN

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Officials of Omega Micro Technologies Inc. announced a new method to produce highly reliable ceramic substrates for electronic devices used in military applications as well as automotive commercial applications at a greatly reduced cost.

This image shows a 200-watt switch coupler board developed by Omega Micro Technologies for a U.S. Navy project using Omega Micro's proprietary plating process. The process may produce high-reliability ceramic substrates at a greatly reduced cost for electronic devices used in military applications as well as automotive commercial applications. (Photo provided by Omega Micro Technologies)

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Omega Micro Technologies, which is based in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, has developed a proprietary electroless nickel gold plating process for fabrication of high-reliability, low-temperature co-fired ceramic substrates used in electronic devices and modules. The Omega Micro Technologies process utilizes a multilayer ceramic substrate constructed exclusively with silver conductors which are then electrolessly plated with nickel followed by a thin layer of gold, as opposed to traditional high-reliability, low-temperature co-fired ceramic substrates for electronic modules that utilize gold exclusively for all conductors within the substrate.

"The nickel gold plating process over silver provides a high-reliability substrate that allows for a cost savings of anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of a comparable substrate fabricated with all gold conductors," said Jacob Smelser, president of Omega Micro Technologies. "The cost of this new nickel gold plated substrate is comparable in price with traditional commercial substrates fabricated with all silver conductors but with the reliability approaching that of substrates fabricated with all gold conductors, thus allowing the process to be used widely throughout the military marketplace with considerable cost savings to the U.S. military and armed forces."

Furthermore, the cost savings potential of the new process will allow low-temperature co-fired ceramic substrates and modules with their superior performance and enhanced capabilities to be directly cost competitive with lower-performance, cheaper substrate technologies such as high-temperature co-fired ceramic and potentially laminate and polymer material sets.

"The cost savings potential provided by this new approach to the fabrication of low-temperature co-fired ceramic substrates opens new areas of market potential for our substrate technologies within both the military and the automotive and commercial marketplaces," Smelser said.

Over the last year, researchers for Omega Micro Technologies have been working with officials from various U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), as well as under a contract with the Indiana Radio Frequency Alliance and Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center in southern Indiana in order to evaluate and characterize the performance and reliability of Omega Micro Technologies' plating process under standard military environmental operating conditions.

"As a result of these efforts, our low-temperature co-fired ceramic substrate technology is currently going through final qualifications for acceptance by a major DoD Original Equipment Manufacturers' U.S. Army Joint Tactical Radio System," Smelser said. "We expect to begin a low-rate initial production in the spring of this year and fully expect to produce and/or plate more than 240,000 substrates annually beginning in 2011."

For further information, or to inquire about Omega Micro Technologies LTCC and thick-film capabilities, please contact Smelser or Phil Fisher at 765-775-1011 or via their e-mail addresses at or