Electrically Conductive Adhesives and its Uses

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With the rise in universal usage of electronic devices, the creation of advanced adhesives and coatings has started taking place. Electrically Conductive Adhesives (ECAs) have been introduced in electronics manufacturing, either directly or indirectly. ECAs usually include epoxy resin but UV cure and silicone adhesives can also be used. From syringe to screen-print, these adhesives can be applied in numerous ways.

The application of electrically conductive glue is based on various factors including the type of conductive particles used as well as the adhesives they will be suspended in.

Major Uses of Conductive Adhesives

The two main categories in which the uses of ECAs can be divided are conductive uses and shielding uses. ECAs used in conductive connection uses silver as the filler material and when used in Shielding, less conductive materials, like graphite, are most often used.

Conductive Uses

The two main types of conductive adhesives used are Isotropic Conductive Adhesives (ICAs) and Anisotropic Conductive Adhesives (ACA). ICAs are mostly conductive in all directions, whereas ACAs are in only one direction. Where ACAs are suited for some particular circuit board applications, as are used in many applications where solder is suitable.

With the introduction of high-tech glass and plastics in electronics these days, the adhesives need to fulfill the application requirements. Most cell phones or display devices comprise of a Transparent Conducting Film (TCF) of different kinds. To preserve optical transparency, Indium Tin Oxides (ITOs) and other TCFs, that are used in LED or OLED displays, can be easily connected with conductive glues where wires and solders would not be able to serve the purpose.

These modern thermoplastics and delicate components can be sensitive to high-heat. Sometimes the conductivity of a conductive adhesive serves as an alternative to conventional solder connections. This is because the heat in the soldering process is too high and conductive adhesives work with less heat. Due to this, they are also known as 'Cold Solder'.

Additionally, ECAs are lead-free that makes them environmentally friendly. Moreover, conductive adhesives are competent heat conductors and due to this, some ECAs are used in heat-dissipation applications.

Shielding Uses

ECAs are a great provider of conductive surfaces in applications requiring shielding from electromagnetic interference (EMI) or electrostatic discharge (ESD). When conductive glue is applied as a coating, it works as a Faraday Cage, leading to the distribution of charge around the coated object, instead of distributing the charge through it. This can also be helpful in providing protection even at a higher frequency.

Electrostatic Discharge can be dangerous with sensitive electronics or unstable chemicals.

Final Consideration

These days conductive glues or adhesives have been developed for almost every application and using the correct one is based on a particular situation. Electrically Conductive Adhesives (ECAs) are a great solder alternative and can also be used for other special situations. Moreover, when corrosion is a matter of concern, non-corrosive material, such as graphite, is used.

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