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Technical Articles From Nokia Corporation

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The Evolution of Surface Finishes in Mobile Phone Applications

Feb 28, 2017 | Claus Würtz Nielsen Nokia Mobile Phones R&D

During the last 5 years mobile phones and other portable consumer electronics have been extremely popular and spread all over the world in different climate zones in very high volumes. At the same time the mobile phone terminal for many people has become a necessity that is brought with them in any activity they practice. These changes in user behavior have heavily changed the impact on handheld terminals from moisture, sweat, corrosive atmospheres and mechanical drop. As a result of this the requirement to solder joint reliability, corrosion stability and wear resistance are heavily increasing to keep a high reliability of the terminal.

Immersion Ni/Au has been the overall dominant surface finish on Printed Wiring Boards (PWB's) for the last 10 years, but a paradigm shift to avoid use of this thin and porous surface finish is ongoing nowadays because it can’t address these challenges in a satisfactory way.

In today's handheld terminals, Organic Solder Preservative (OSP) has replaced Immersion Ni/Au on solder pads. Carbon surface finish for Key- and spring contact-pads, combined with the right concept design can make use of Immersion Ni/Au unnecessary in the near future. The result will be higher reliability with less expensive and simpler processes.

This paper will discuss the various considerations for choice of surface finish and results from the feasibility studies performed....

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