Advanced Electronics Laboratory

Engineering Applications and Systems Development Department

| Engineering Applications and Systems Development Department | Applied Physics Division |


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“We specialize in shrinking the size of electronics and packaging. Our clients come to us when they need quick turnaround of custom electronics designs.”

— Leigh Griffith, Program Manager




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Advanced Electronics Laboratory Research Program Summary

In a new well-equipped laboratory, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) engineers create novel micro- and macroscopic electronics and sensors for a variety of applications, ranging from asset tracking to geophysical sensors and space instrumentation. Using state-of-the-art tools for material patterning, assembly and characterization, the Advanced Electronics Laboratory specializes in shrinking the size of electronics and packaging.

Advanced Electronics Laboratory Equipment

Patterning equipment includes a laser micromachining tool that uses an intense ultraviolet laser to drill, cut and write on materials too small and fragile for mechanical tools. Electronics screen printing capabilities print circuits on a wide variety of materials, from ceramics to cloth and paper. Currently, SwRI is printing radio frequency identification tags on vinyl for asset tracking applications. A direct write dispensing tool writes electronic circuits on almost anything. For one program, SwRI is printing antennas and electrical buses on moths. The laboratory’s mask aligner fabricates microelectromechanical (MEMS) systems and patterns ultra-small antennas.

Assembly equipment includes a ball grid array and flip chip die bonder used to develop electronic circuits from bare silicon die on paper, plastic and composite substrates to form flexible and very small circuitry assemblies. A wire bonding system links macro-level circuits to a microchip’s internal leads using fine diameter gold or aluminum wire.

Characterization equipment includes an atomic force microscope that assesses the surface, chemical and friction properties of materials to probe the forces between materials at the atomic and molecular level to greatly improve understanding of adhesive forces. The SwRI microprobe station is the workhorse of the lab, measuring the electrical parameters of circuits and MEMS devices using micron-scale probes to assess nearly every device made in the lab. An optical profilometer, which is like a
3D microscope with calipers, maps surfaces of small parts to check dimensions, measures surface roughness and measures deflections of MEMS actuators. The facility includes an X-ray microscope with exceptional spatial resolution to locate flaws inside or underneath electronic circuits, for nondestructive evaluation of parts and to visualize the internal workings of intricate parts and mechanisms. A suite of advanced rheology equipment characterizes the flow behavior of complex fluids, such as paint, polymers, gels and food to assess crystallization kinetics, slip behavior and the behavior of adhesives.


For more information about the Advanced Electronic Laboratory, contact Leigh Griffith, at (210) 522-3726.

Contact Us

Leigh Griffith

Program Manager

T: (210) 522-3726

F: (210) 522-4973

Engineering Applications and Systems Development Department

| Engineering Applications and Systems Development Department | Applied Physics Division |


Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.

August 06, 2014